How long is bacterial tonsillitis contagious for?

Ah, yes. You wake up one day and realize that swallowing feels like torture. Your feverish brain starts trying to piece together how you got here while your inflamed tonsils try to swallow all the snot in your throat in a desperate attempt at self-preservation.

Tonsillitis can have various causes, but what about bacterial tonsillitis? Given that bacteria tends to be exponentially more contagious than viruses, you might start wondering how long it will take until everyone around you gets infected as well.

Well, fear not! We’ve compiled an informative guide on everything bacterial tonsillitis-related: from the symptoms to the contagion period and (of course) some hilarious commentary thrown in between paragraphs.

What Exactly is Bacterial Tonsillitis?

Bacterial tonsillitis refers to an infection of the two masses of soft tissue located within each side of the back of your throat – aka palatine tonsils – caused by bacteria.

While different types of bacteria can cause this ailment (namely Streptococcus pyogenes, common name “strep throat”), they almost always lead to similar symptoms:

  • Swollen and red tonsils
  • White or yellow coating or patches on those same swollen and red tonsils
  • Soreness when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Headaches

But I mean – come on – who doesn’t love being sick every once in a while? It gives us plenty of time make up alternative lyrics for our favorite songs (I Will Survive instead becomes I Can’t Even Stand) or figure out if there really are creatures living inside our nostrils after reading about them online (please don’t check).

How Long is Bacterial Tonsilitis Contagious For?

Now let’s dive into what truly matters: just how much social interaction will you need to give up for the sake of your infected tonsils?

The contagiousness of bacterial tonsillitis is a question that tends to be on everyone’s minds once they realize how bad their throat feels. The good news is that it’s not unique in its duration compared to other bacteria-formulated illnesses.

In general, while someone begins showing symptoms around two to five days after being exposed, it can take anywhere from three days all the way up to 2 weeks (cue tears) until you’re no longer transmitting bacteria onto others through saliva or mucus.

Tabulating this information:

Onset of Symptoms Stop Being Contagious
Exhibiting signs 2-5 days after infection Up to 7-14 Days

However, if your visiting relative from abroad decides not only should they catch bacterial tonsillitis but share it with as many people as possible at Thanksgiving dinner – well – then they might be spreading germs even before starting any sore-throat-symptoms (which would make them ‘asymptomatic’)!

Gosh though; who needs hugs when we’ve got sanitizer? Leave grandma alone for a bit so she has time aggregate her data (or watch reruns).

Prevention is Key

Bear in mind though: all of these numbers can vary depending on different factors such as:

  • Age
  • Overall Health
  • Hydration Levels
  • Presence Of Other Infections In The Body

Thus, one shouldn’t assume that since an entire year ago another person caught this sickness and was okay within a week then automatically cases are similar amongst people like one-size fits all clothes.

Instead try sticking by general health tips such as disinfecting surfaces regularly or avoiding drinking out of other people’s cups (#stalker) whenever there’s media coverage about new pandemics viruses going around worldwide which have left everybody feeling rather paranoid.


The diagnosis of bacterial tonsillitis, if one is looking for that sort of thing in their life, relies almost exclusively on:

  • Symptoms
  • Physical Examination
  • Laboratory Tests

If the GP believes the patient needs laboratory testing (read: “If you’re really unlucky”), they’ll take a throat culture swab or rapid antigen test to check whether certain bacteria are present.

While you’re waiting — look no further than this far-fetched piece along with your malfunctioning body parts.

In the majority of cases it will be sufficient enough just to describe and examine which signs someone has exhibited since symptoms aren’t powerful enough proof on their own regarding purpose tbh; like is there even any escaping bodily fluid secretions?

As for lab tests when asked what them being positive could signify: while these exams can detect whether streptococcus pyogenes – and other similarly transmitted bacteria strains even – are here or there inside someone’s system which can bring ease through knowing how far along having an infection in-progress may be as well finding ways alleviate issues arising wherever possible unless prevented by society such as not needing cough drops every ten minutes.

Treatment & Recovery

Now we get down to brass tacks. Treatments available include things such as:

  • Antibiotics
    • e.g., penicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanic acid combo.

I mean.. if it worked for people who were practically walking petri dishes at some point then why wouldn’t it work now? Just remember though — Finish! The! Script!

Commonly occurring side effects include:nada Seriously though antibiotics should never be shared between different people nor saved up until another alleged future sickness arises whenever numbers are called from various fever-line resources after Googling baseless remedies online.

Other methods that might help with making yourself feel better during this phase:

  • Pain Relief Medicines (painkillers)
  • Throat Spray or Antiseptic Mouthwash
  • Drinking Lots of Fluids

You’d be consuming sufficient amounts anyway, but might as well keep tally just to keep track yourself. A running alternative can also replace the visible front of a house too boring for one’s tastes.

Warning though: while these remedies will help ease symptoms (& surely make us responsible folks aware), bacterial tonsillitis usually takes around five to seven days until fully clearing up although less severe cases may heal faster supposedly so better stock up on some series in advance =) Feel free to stifle coughs & breathe through your mouth all you want…until then (kidding — we take documentation seriously!).

What Happens If You Don’t Get Treatment?

While this line sounds scary enough reading “don’t get treatment,” whether it’s due to anxiety about medication side effects, an over-inflated ego that believes one is invincible no matter what common folk like the rest claim during their sneezing fits outside after attending packed seminar halls in college right where other obviously ill attendees decided they could sit even with barely showing any effort at covering faces ora valid reason such as similar ailments experienced previously – the fact remains neglecting whatever it is that causes harm can allow nastier complications unwind from nowhere & also interfere with daily activities let alone conversations.

Depending on which bacteria has penetrated both sides of your throat (lovely image!), untreated bacterial tonsillitis may lead to:

  • Septicemia
    • Blood Infection
  • Rheumatic Fever
    • Causing joint inflammation and pain.

Really though I don’t know why everyone doesn’t eliminate friends who are medical students altogether. They never fail mentioning about rheumatic fever somehow thus leaving poorer souls suffering episodes within relatable movies.

More commonly occurring sequelae include:

  • Pocket Formation That Forms Within Tonsils
  • Abscess Building Up Between Tonsils and Walls of Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing (i.e suffocation in severe cases)

While very rare, bacterial tonsillitis can also cause diseases like acute glomerulonephritis — which I’m sure we’ve all heard about multiple times while waiting for that appointment with the ENT.

Conclusion: You’re Infectious But Also Informative!

In conclusion (whew), people should be vigilant when it comes to personal hygiene, especially around flu seasons lest they catch something dampening enough requiring a doctor’s intervention. Hand washing is important ya’ll!

So there you have it – now you know everything there’s to know (well) about bacterial tonsillitis from what causes contagiousness down all way up until what happens if left unaddressed. And who knows? Maybe some germy co-worker or room mate will appreciate this newfound wealth of knowledge =)