Children's Hospital Colorado
Ear, Nose and Throat


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What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is the name for infected, swollen tonsils. The tonsils are the two pads of tissue located in the back of the throat. Different forms of tonsilitis can include pharyngitis and strep throat. Tonsillitis is an infection that involves only the tonsils. When the infection also involves a sore throat, it’s called pharyngitis, and when the infection is caused by streptococcal bacteria, it’s commonly known as step throat.

What causes tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis can be caused by viral infections such as colds or flu. A bacterial infection can also cause tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Group A streptococcus is a bacterial infection that inflames the tonsils and causes strep throat.

Who gets tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is most common in children between the ages of 2 and 15.

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Soham Roy, MD

Soham Roy, MD

Otolaryngology, Pediatric Otolaryngology

Mark Willis, MD

Mark Willis, MD


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Bethany Thomas, CPNP-PC

Bethany Thomas, CPNP-PC

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Emily Gale, PA-C

Emily Gale, PA-C

Physician Assistant