Is Tonsillitis Contagious? How Long Will It Be Contagious?

Is Tonsillitis Contagious? How Long Will It Be Contagious?

Is Tonsillitis Contagious?

To know whether tonsillitis is contagious or not, you will first need to see what is tonsillitis and how you get them. Tonsils protect your body from germs and is a part of the immune system. But sometimes the tonsils may get infected. This condition is called as tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis can be caused by bacteria or viruses. The symptoms are similar to that of common cold, most notably you will have a sore throat.

Mostly children are susceptible to tonsillitis. The symptoms last for a week or two without treatment. When you or your child suffer from tonsillitis, you may want to know is tonsillitis contagious and how long is it contagious. Here are all your queries answered.

What Causes Tonsillitis? Is Tonsillitis Contagious?

The same infections that cause the common cold can cause tonsillitis. The difference is that the infection is in the tonsils. To know is tonsillitis contagious you should know the cause of your infection.

Tonsillitis itself is not contagious, but the infections that cause it are contagious. It is caused if the germs from an infected person pass on to the other.

Either bacteria or viruses can cause tonsillitis to spread. The germs can spread through contact with a sick person or through the air.

This is why children are more affected by tonsillitis because they spread more germs. So is tonsillitis contagious depends on the type of infection you have. If it is caused due to hay fever or sinusitis, then it is not contagious.

How Long Is Tonsillitis Contagious For?

How long tonsillitis is contagious depends on the answer to the previous question is tonsillitis contagious? The duration of tonsillitis depends on the type of infection.

A person is contagious as soon as he is infected, which can be much before he starts to show the symptoms. So you are contagious before you even know you’re sick.

If you don’t treat tonsillitis, you will be contagious for as long as you have symptoms. If the infection is severe the longer it will be contagious.

Let us see how long is tonsillitis contagious. If it caused due to viruses can be contagious for seven to 10 days and that caused due to bacteria will be contagious for about two weeks. If you start antibiotics to treat it, it will stop being contagious after 24 to 48 hours.

Tonsillitis Symptoms: How Will You Know If You Have Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis symptoms can look similar to the symptoms of common cold with few differences. You will have swollen glands in your neck if you have tonsillitis.

And you will see white pus-like spots on your tonsils at the back of your throat. Some other tonsillitis symptoms include:

  • If you have tonsillitis, you will first have a sore throat.
  • You may have difficulty swallowing and a hoarse voice.
  • A high temperature, coughing, a headache, an earache, or fatigue can also be the symptoms.

How Does Tonsillitis Spread?

Tonsillitis caused due to bacteria or viruses spreads by physical contact with a sick person. It can also spread when someone who is infected, sneezes or coughs. Inhaling the contaminated droplets will infect you.

If the germs get on your skin or on objects that come in contact with your nose, eyes, or mouth, they will infect you. The infection can spread easily among people through contact and the air.

How to Prevent Tonsillitis?

Now you know is tonsillitis contagious and how does tonsillitis spread, you should know how to prevent it to avoid spreading it to others. You can prevent tonsillitis by preventing the spread of germs.

These are some ways to prevent tonsillitis:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water
  • When you can’t wash your hands, use a disinfectant
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom, after coming from outside, and before eating
  • Do not share drinks with someone who is sick
  • Try to avoid physical contact with people who are sick
  • If you get tonsillitis, replace your toothbrush
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing in crowded places
  • Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing
  • When you’re sick, stay at home to prevent spreading the infection to others

To preventing tonsillitis, you have to prevent the spread of germs. Good hygiene will help you prevent tonsillitis, especially during cold and flu season.

Since tonsillitis is more common in children, try to protect your kids from the spread of germs. Teach them hygiene practice.

Tonsillitis Home Remedies: What To Do If You Get Infected?

Tonsillitis will go away on its own within one to two weeks. At home, you can treat the symptoms to help you feel better. Here are some tonsillitis home remedies you can try to improve your symptoms:

  • Try over the counter medicines like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and fever
  • Gargle with warm salt water to soothe your throat
  • Suck on lozenges to make your throat feel better
  • Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep more than normal
  • Restrict your activity, so your body has time to rest and recover
  • Drink lots of fluids, especially water
  • Drink tea or hot water with lemon, to soothe your throat

You can treat the symptoms at home, but if the infection gets worse, you will need to see a doctor. If the symptoms don’t go away or if they get worse, see a doctor.

If you notice your tonsils are infected with pus, or you have difficulty swallowing or breathing seek medical advice immediately. Tonsillitis is a minor infection, but it can become a more serious problem in rare cases.

Read Next:

“Diseases and Conditions: Tonsillitis,” Mayo Clinic web site, July 17, 2015;
“Tonsillitis: Overview,” NCBI web site, December 01, 2016;
“Tonsillitis Pathology,” Britannica web site;, last accessed October 5, 2017.
“Tonsillitis,” Mount Sinai web site, December 09, 2016;
“Tonsillitis,” National Health Service UK web site;, last accessed October 5, 2017.
“Oral Care: Tonsillitis – Cause,” WebMD web site;, last accessed October 5, 2017.

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Dr. David Cummings, MD

David Cummings, MD, is a medical reviewer and editor at Daily Health Cures. David received his medical degree from the University of Illinois.