Peritonsillar Abscess


Peritonsillar abscess is a bacterial infection. It develops on the side of the throat, behind or above the tonsils. The infection causes a pocket of pus to form. This type of abscess usually happens on one side of the throat or the other.
The Tonsils
nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The abscess is caused by bacteria. It is usually a complication of another illness.

Risk Factors

It is more common in males and people 20-40 years old. Factors that may increase your chances of developing peritonsillar abscess include:
  • Strep pharyngitis or tonsilitis
  • Pharyngitis or tonsilitis caused by other bacteria
  • Mononucleosis
  • Recent throat infection or dental infection
  • Periodontal disease
  • Smoking


Symptoms may include:
  • Pain in the throat around the tonsil area
  • Tonsil that is moved to one side
  • Fever
  • Drooling and trouble swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • Spasm of the jaw muscle
  • Discomfort in the uvula and soft palate—the tissue at the roof of the mouth
  • Sore and swollen neck glands


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to have tissue tested. This can be done with needle aspiration.You may need to have pictures taken of the inside of your neck. This can be done with:


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may include:

Supportive Care

Rest and drink plenty of fluids.


Antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the infection. Antibiotics can be given in pill form or through an IV. Pain relievers may also be advised.


The abscess may be punctured with a needle. Fluid will be removed. A sample will be sent to the lab for testing. This procedure can be done in the doctor’s office.

Incision and Drainage Procedure

An incision and drainage procedure may be done. While under sedation, a small cut will be made in the abscess. The fluid will be drained.


Atonsillectomy may be recommended if all other treatments fail. This involves removing the affected tonsil. This may also be done if you have had previous peritonsillar infections.

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Music May Improve Sleep Quality in Adults with Insomnia
October 2015

Insomnia can make your days miserable and a cure can be hard to find. There are some medications but there is some worry with side effects and the potential for addiction. Music is side effect free and according to this study may help you find sleep.

dot separator
previous editions

CPAP May Help Older Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
September 2015

Water Before Meals May Promote Weight Loss
August 2015

Fecal Transplants Induce Ulcerative Colitis Remission
July 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »