How to Prevent and Avoid Tonsillitis in Adults

By Sara . Updated: August 3, 2017
How to Prevent and Avoid Tonsillitis in Adults

Tonsillitis is an infection in the tonsils which usually occurs in children. But often adults are also infected as tonsillitis is an infectious disease because the virus or bacteria causing the tonsillitis infection are contagious. But by using some basic hygienic precautions Tonsillitis can be prevented from spreading.

In this oneHOWTO article we explain how to prevent the spread of tonsillitis in adults. To find out how to Cure Tonsillitis see our other article which contains various Home Remedies for those who have already contracted some form of Tonsillitis.

  1. What is Tonsillitis?
  2. Tonsillitis is Contagious
  3. Prevention of Tonsillitis

What is Tonsillitis?

The tonsils are two masses of tissue situated at the back of a person’s throat. They act as filters by trapping germs which can enter the air passage and can cause infection. They even produce antibodies to fight off infection. But when they are overwhelmed by viruses and bacteria they can themselves becomes infected.

When tonsils become infected they swell and become inflamed. It is this kind infection in the tonsils which is known as Tonsillitis. Most cases of tonsillitis are resolved within a few days without antibiotic medication. But if symptoms persist then it is advised to seek medical help.

How to Prevent and Avoid Tonsillitis in Adults - What is Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is Contagious

Tonsillitis is contagious and spreads by droplets from direct physical contact like kissing or by airborne droplets which spreads while coughing or sneezing.

Tonsillitis caused from bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. The patient suffering from bacteria induced tonsillitis is not contagious 24 to 48 hours after starting antibiotics. But tonsillitis caused by bacteria can be contagious for about 2 weeks if left untreated. Tonsillitis caused by a virus is contagious for 7 to 10 days.

How to Prevent and Avoid Tonsillitis in Adults - Tonsillitis is Contagious

Prevention of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis can be prevented in adults using the following precautions:

  • Avoid close contact with the person suffering from Tonsillitis like shaking hands, hugging etc.
  • Avoid prolonged contact with the person suffering from bacteria induced tonsillitis until 24 hours after the antibiotics are started.
  • Ask the sick person to wash their hands regularly; especially after using the toilet


  • Do not share a toothbrush or other personal items with the person suffering from Tonsillitis.


  • Avoid sharing utensils, water bottles, glasses and food with the sick person till they are cured.
  • Regularly wash and disinfect the surface and things which a person suffering from Tonsillitis comes in contact with.


  • Ask the sick person to cover their moth with hands or a tissue while sneezing. After sneezing ask them to wash and disinfect their hands properly using a hand sanitizer. If the sick person is using tissue then ask him/ her to dispose the tissue in places where it won’t come in contact with other people.


  • Avoid smoking as it increases the risk of developing tonsillitis.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Prevent and Avoid Tonsillitis in Adults, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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1 comment
Andrew Baillie
My daughter which is now an adult has suffered tonsil infections for a long time. She is now going to the hospital in a few days to take them out. I'm suggesting to her to reconsider. My tonsils were taken out when I was five years old, which was something quite common in the 50's. With all the new information coming out in the last few years about the importance of leaving them alone, we are still dealing with tonsilitis, which can be hard for the ones that get it on a regular basis.
My question is the following: As a regular hygiene maintenance, would doing gargles with "Listerine" help to take away some of the burdens the Tonsils go through when under stress? I would like to know, Thank you.
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Andrew,

Since you had your tonsils removed when you were a child, it has been a long time since you have endured the pain of tonsillitis. It is likely you won't remember this pain, especially since they are exacerbated as an adult. To answer your initial question, something like Listerine will have very little effect on relieving the symptoms of tonsillitis. In fact, mouthwashes which contain alcohol will probably make them worse.

If your daughter has chronic tonsillitis, it can really affect her quality of life. The operation is more risky for adults than children, but adults who suffer bleeding post-op are less than 6% (depending on country, quality of care, etc.). This is why many patients will have a hospital stay after the operation as bleeding most often occurs the day after the op. This can be treated, but may require another round of surgery. Tonsillectomies do require general anaesthetic and this in itself provides a risk. However, they are considered routine.

It is unwise to undergo any unnecessary operation, but the possible risks of a tonsillectomy may be worth not having to bear the pain. However, we certainly can't say whether or not your daughter should have an operation. This is something she needs to discuss with a trusted doctor and weigh up the risks and benefits. We can she, if she is an adult with sound mind and judgment, her choice needs to be respected.

We hope this is helpful and at least provides some perspective.
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How to Prevent and Avoid Tonsillitis in Adults