Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Is having your tonsils removed the only way to cure recurring tonsillitis?"

ZocdocAnswersIs having your tonsils removed the only way to cure recurring tonsillitis?


I've had tonsillitis twice this year already. I'm 43 years old and not really interested in having my tonsils removed after all these years. Is this my only option for preventing the tonsillitis from recurring? Are there any other preventative measures that can be taken to avoid surgery?


It is relatively unusual for adults to have frequent tonsillitis (this is a more common problem in children), but it can happen. If you are having three or more episodes of tonsillitis per year you might want to talk to your doctor about how to prevent the episodes. There are several strategies that can be tried. First, if the attacks are not severe, then symptomatic treatment with things like anti inflammatory medications and gargling with salt water might be all that is required. Of course, if the episodes are due to recurrent bacterial infections (not usual, as most episodes of tonsillitis are from common viral infections), then you may need to take antibiotics with each flare as well. Your doctor may also look closely at the cultures of your throat and make sure you are taking the antibiotic exactly as prescribed to make sure the recurrent episodes are not due either to a resistant bacteria or to not taking the medications exactly correctly. If these strategies do not work, then it is time to see an ENT doctor. These are the doctors who perform tonsil removal surgery and they can discuss the risks and benefits with you.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.