Encyclopedia Home / P / Peritonsillar abscess

Peritonsillar abscess

  • Alternative Names

    Quinsy; Abscess - peritonsillar


    One or both tonsils become infected. The infection may spread over the roof of the mouth (palate), and to the neck and chest, including the lungs. Swollen tissues may block the airway, which is a life-threatening medical emergency.

    The abscess can break open (rupture) into the throat, infecting or further blocking the airway.

    Symptoms of peritonsillar abscess include:

    • Chills
    • Difficulty opening the mouth, and pain with opening the mouth
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Drooling or inability to swallow saliva
    • Facial swelling
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Muffled voice
    • Sore throat (may be severe and is usually on one side)
    • Tender glands of the jaw and throat

    Signs and tests

    An examination of the throat often shows swelling on one side and on the roof of the mouth.

    The uvula in the back of the throat may be shifted away from the swelling. The neck and throat may be red and swollen on one or both sides.

    The following tests may be done:

    • Aspiration of the abscess
    • CT scan