What are the Common Causes of Tonsil Pus?

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  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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The most common causes of tonsil pus include tonsil stones, tonsillitis, and an abscess on the tonsil. In most cases, the use of good dental hygiene can aid in the prevention of pus. Tonsillitis, however, is caused by bacterial or viral infection, which can often not be avoided. While the pus on its own is not life-threatening, it generally is considered indicative of more serious medical conditions.

Tonsil stones are one condition that can cause pus. As the name suggests, tonsil stones are small, white deposits that develop on the crypts of the tonsils. While this condition is typically not painful, it can result in difficulty eating and/or swallowing, and very foul-smelling breath. Individuals who are diagnosed with tonsil stones may need to undergo invasive treatment to break up and remove the offending stones. Unfortunately, individuals who have been diagnosed with this condition are at an increased risk for the development of it in the future.

Tonsillitis is a common cause of tonsil pus, and can be caused by both viral and bacterial infections. In addition to pus, tonsillitis often results in swollen lymph nodes, fever, and a sore throat. Bacterial forms of tonsillitis are most often treated through the use of antibiotics, while viral infections must often simply run their course.


Individuals who suffer from chronic tonsillitis may require the complete removal of one or both of their tonsils. This is usually not recommended for the very young or old, or others with a poor immune system. Antibiotics, adequate hydration, and rest are important for the complete recovery of most individuals who have been diagnosed with tonsillitis.

The development of an abscess on one or both of the tonsils is known as a peritonsillar abscess, and can be a common cause of tonsil pus. In addition to high amounts of pus, this condition is also characterized by severe pain. While medications may be enough to treat minor cases, an abscess on the tonsil typically requires drainage. When left untreated, an abscess can lead to a number of serious complications, including necrosis and sepsis. An abscess can sometimes develop as a complication of tonsillitis.


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Post 3

I have tonsil stones removed periodically. I hate tonsil stones, they are the worst things ever. They don't hurt but they bother me and I can feel them when I swallow. They also cause pus pockets on the tonsils which smell very foul like the article said. I'm thinking about having my tonsils removed just so that I can get rid of these stones permanently.

Post 2

@burcinc-- Of course you don't need to have your tonsils removed. That's usually reserved for people who have recurrent tonsillitis.

Treatment for tonsillitis depends on the cause. If it's caused by bacteria, you can take antibiotics. If it's caused by a virus, there aren't medications for viral infections, but anti-inflammatory medications are helpful.

You need to have a swab test done at the doctor's office. That's the only way you can know whether the infection is bacterial or viral.

For tonsillar abscesses, warm salt water gargling is very good. Mouthwash is usually too harsh because of the alcohol content. You can make your own mouthwash by dissolving sea salt in boiled water. After it has cooled down, gargle with this solution several times a day to treat the abscesses and get rid of pus.

Post 1

I have spots filled with pus on my tonsils because of tonsillitis. It started out with inflammation and now it's a full-blown infection. They spots are white and give me bad breath. I also have a sore throat.

What is the treatment for this? I don't need to have my tonsils removed do I?

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