Symptoms and causes

Symptoms and causes

What is it?

A tonsilar abscess is a complication that can arise from an infection of the tonsils (tonsilitis or angina). This is a tonsil infection that can spread to the soft tissues. The infection causes pus to collect behind the tonsil.


Various symptoms of a tonsilar abscess include:

  • pronounced, one-sided throat pain that can radiate towards the ears
  • difficulty opening the mouth
  • pain when swallowing
  • fever
  • general malaise

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis and treatment


When there is one-sided swelling of the tonsil in the mouth, a blood test is done. Sometimes, additional medical imaging is performed with a CT scan in order to rule out deeper infections/collections of pus.


The treatment of a tonsilar abscess is as follows. The acculmulated pus is drained at the hospital and additional intravenous antibiotcs are given as well as appropriate pain medication. On another occasion, a tonsillectomy may be discussed. This is an operation to remove both tonsils.

Treatment centres and specialisations

Treatment centres and specialisations
Ear, nose, and throat diseases (ENT)

Latest publication date: 17/05/2023
Supervising author: Dr Vermeiren Judith