Tonsillitis treatment available online today

Consult with one of our board-certified primary care doctors online today to develop a treatment plan to get relief from a sore throat or scratchy voice. If needed, get a new prescription to treat tonsillitis or refill an existing prescription today.*

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Prescription and OTC medications available online

Manage tonsillitis concerns conveniently from anywhere

Expert screening for tonsillitis

*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor's discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how to save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of tonsillitis. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, which are two oval-shaped lymph nodes on each side of the back of your throat. Like other lymph nodes throughout the body, tonsils work as a defense mechanism to protect your body from infections.

When an infection develops on the tonsils, the condition is called tonsillitis. Although tonsillitis is a common childhood illness, it can occur at any age. There are two types of tonsillitis: bacterial and viral.

Tonsillitis causes

Tonsillitis happens when your tonsils—the lymph nodes located on each side of the back of your throat—become infected. Tonsils are your body's first-line defense against illness, combating bacteria and viruses that enter your body through your mouse and nose. They are also, however, vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections. 

  • Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria (group A streptococcus)

    This is the most common cause of bacterial tonsillitis infection and is the same type of bacteria that causes strep throat (streptococcal pharyngitis). 

  • Viral infections

    • Common cold (rhinovirus, adenovirus, among others) are the most frequent culprits of tonsillitis

    • Flu (influenza virus)

Tonsillitis symptoms

Tonsillitis primarily affects children between preschool ages and mid-teenage years. Sore throat patients typically experience:

    • Sore throat

    • Difficulty swallowing

    • Scratchy voice

    • Bad breath

    • Fever above 100.4 °F

    • Stomachache, earache, or headache

    • Stiff neck

    • Tenderness around the jaw and neck

    • Red and swollen tonsils

    • White or yellow spots on the tonsils

    In young children, tonsillitis may also be marked by a poor appetite, irritability, and excessive drooling.

How to treat tonsillitis

Tonsillitis treatment varies depending on the cause of the infection. Although the symptoms of viral and bacterial tonsillitis may look similar, each infection requires different treatments. It's important to remember that not all tonsillitis should or needs to be treated with antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to serious health complications. 

  • Bacterial tonsillitis: Bacterial tonsillitis (strep tonsillitis) is treated with antibiotic medications, which require a prescription from your healthcare provider. Certain signs will help distinguish bacterial tonsillitis including high fever and pus (exudates) on your tonsils which appear as white patches. If bacterial tonsillitis isn't properly treated, an abscess may rarely develop as pus collects in the back of your throat. If this happens, you may need urgent treatment with IV antibiotics and/or surgery to remove the abscess.

  • Viral tonsillitis: Antibiotic medications cannot treat viral infections. The best treatment for viral tonsillitis often involves rest, hydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers to manage sore throat symptoms.

Tonsillitis medication

Your healthcare provider will review your medical history and identify the cause of your tonsillitis to determine the best medication for you. If you have bacterial tonsillitis, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics . If you have viral tonsillitis, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medications to manage your sore throat symptoms.

How to prevent tonsillitis

It's not always possible to prevent tonsillitis. However, you can take steps to lower your risk:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, especially before touching your nose and mouth.

  • Avoid sharing foods, drinks, or eating utensils with someone sick.

  • Replace your toothbrush regularly to avoid introducing harmful bacteria into your mouth.

  • Rest, eat healthily, and exercise regularly to maintain a strong immune system.

When to see a doctor for tonsillitis

If you experience any symptoms of tonsillitis, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Although viral and bacterial tonsillitis share similar symptoms, a bacterial infection will typically require antibiotics. You should seek medical attention if you experience a sore throat or fever that lasts over four days without any noticeable improvement. If your doctor cannot diagnose your sore throat online, they may recommend in-person examination.

Tonsillitis treatment FAQs

  • How do you get rid of tonsillitis fast?

    In most cases, you can manage tonsillitis symptoms with home remedies. Some helpful tips for treating sore throats include: Gargling warm saltwater Lozenges and cough drops Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated Drinking warm liquids, such as tea, apple cider, or broth Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) Using a humidifier

  • What is the best medicine for tonsillitis?

    The best medicine for tonsillitis depends on the cause of the infection. If you have bacterial tonsillitis, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. You can get online sore throat treatment by booking an appointment with an online doctor at PlushCare. Viral tonsillitis usually doesn't require medication and never requires antibioitics, as they only fight bacteria. If you're experiencing a painful sore throat, over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil), can provide relief. 

  • Is tonsillitis contagious?

    Yes, tonsillitis is contagious. While the incubation period varies depending on the type of tonsillitis, most people are contagious for 24–48 hours before developing symptoms. You may remain contagious until your symptoms go away. Tonsillitis can be spread by inhaling respiratory droplets that enter the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can also develop a tonsillitis infection if you come into contact with a contaminated object. Although sore throats can happen at any age, they're commonly seen in young people. Since school-age children come into contact with many people, they're more likely to be exposed to bacteria and germs that can cause tonsillitis.

  • How long does viral tonsillitis last?

    Viral tonsillitis may last 3-7 days as your body fights off the viral infection. If your tonsillitis doesn't improve within 7 days, talk to your doctor. You may be experiencing bacterial tonsillitis, which requires antibiotic treatment. 

  • Can tonsillitis heal itself?

    Yes, most cases of viral tonsillitis will resolve within a few days without any treatment. However, bacterial tonsillitis requires treatment with oral antibiotics. If you experience any sore throat symptoms, book a video consult with one of our board-certified doctors. With sore throat online visits, it's important to upload a photo of the back of your throat for review. Your doctor will discuss your history and your symptoms to determine the cause of your infection. After your online doctor diagnoses tonsillitis, they can create a treatment plan and prescribe tonsillitis treatment online if needed. 

  • Can online doctors treat tonsillitis?

    Yes, online doctors can treat tonsillitis by asking targeted questions about your symptoms and prescribing tonsillitis treatment online. If you're interested in treating sore throat online, you can book an appointment with a licensed PlushCare primary care physician to learn about your treatment options. After your doctor determines whether your infection is viral or bacterial, they can prescribe tonsillitis treatment online if needed. It's important to follow post-visit instructions for to speed up your recovery time. 

3 simple steps to request treatment for tonsillitis today

Step 1

Book a tonsillitis treatment appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2

Talk to your medical provider regarding your tonsillitis symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3

If prescribed, pick up a prescription to treat your tonsillitis.

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.

Tonsillitis treatment pricing details

How pricing works

To request tonsillitis treatment and get a new or refill on your prescription, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits.

Paying with insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

Book an appointment

If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.


PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information

PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.