Tonsillar cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the tissues around the tonsils. A tonsillar abscess is a collection of pus behind the tonsils.
Sometimes, bacteria that infect the throat spread deep into surrounding tissues.
Typical symptoms include sore throat, pain when swallowing, fever, swelling, and redness.
The diagnosis is based on examination of the throat and sometimes the results of imaging studies.
Antibiotics help eliminate the infection.
An abscess is drained with a needle or through a small incision.
Sometimes, bacteria (usually streptococci and staphylococci) that infect the throat can spread deeper into the surrounding tissues. This condition is called cellulitis.
If the bacteria grow unchecked, a collection of pus (abscess) may form. Abscesses may form next to the tonsils (peritonsillar) or in the side of the throat (parapharyngeal). Typically, a peritonsillar abscess bulges into the throat whereas a parapharyngeal abscess may protrude into the neck. A parapharyngeal abscess is more extensive and more dangerous than a peritonsillar abscess.
Tonsillar cellulitis and tonsillar abscesses are most common among adolescents and young adults.