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Quinsy (Peritonsillar Abscess)


Peritonsillar abscess (PTA), also known as quinsy or PTA, is a recognized complication of tonsillitis that accumulates pus beside the tonsil in the Peritonsillar region.

The abscess can cause pain, swelling, and, in extreme cases, throat obstruction. Swallowing, speaking, and breathing become complicated when the throat is obstructed.

A peritonsillar abscess can develop when a tonsil infection (tonsillitis) develops and causes infection in the soft tissues.

Peritonsillar abscesses are infrequent in general. Young adults, teens, and older children are more likely to be affected when they do occur.


Quinsy is most commonly caused by tonsillitis. The germs are the same as those that cause quinsy throat.

Streptococcal bacteria typically cause an infection in the soft tissue surrounding the tonsils (generally only on one side). Anaerobes (bacteria that can live without oxygen) then infiltrate the tissue via adjacent glands.

Dental infections (such as periodontitis and gingivitis) may be a risk factor. Chronic tonsillitis, infectious mononucleosis, smoking, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) are all risk factors.

Tonsilloliths are stones or calcium deposits in the tonsils.


A sore throat is frequently the initial quinsy symptom. As the abscess grows, there may be a time without fever or other symptoms. Two to Five days delay between the onset of symptoms and the formation of an abscess is not uncommon.

  • A swelling area of inflammation in the mouth and throat, usually on one side.
  • The uvula (the little finger of tissue in the middle of the neck) may be pushed away from the enlarged side of the mouth.
  • Neck lymph glands may become swollen and painful.

Other indications and symptoms that may be noted include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever and chills
  • Jaw (trismus) and neck (torticollis) muscle spasms
  • Ear pain on the same side as the abscess
  • A muffled voice, also known as a “hot potato” voice (when you talk, it sounds as though you had a mouthful of hot potato)
  • Difficulty swallowing saliva


A doctor will examine the mouth and throat for quinsy diagnosis. A visual inspection is generally enough to diagnose this problem.

The doctor will likely use a small light and a tongue depressor to aid the examination. An abscess may be indicated by swelling and redness on one tonsil. They may poke the swollen area to see if it contains pus.

If pus is present, the doctor may take a sample and send it to a lab for further analysis.

Sometimes, a healthcare provider may require X-rays or ultrasounds of the mouth or neck to rule out other quinsy illnesses, such as peritonsillar cellulitis, epiglottitis, or other upper airway infections.


A peritonsillar abscess cannot be treated at home. Consult a doctor to discuss your alternatives. The optimum treatment will be determined by the severity of the abscess and how well the patient responds to antibiotics.

A doctor may first try antibiotics to treat a peritonsillar abscess. If they do not work, the doctor may remove the pus from the abscess to aid in healing.

The following medical techniques are used to quinsy treatment:

Extracting the pus with a needle and syringe, lancing the abscess with a scalpel to release and drain the pus, and surgically removing the tonsils in a technique known as an acute tonsillectomy, which a doctor may consider if a person suffers recurrent peritonsillar abscesses

When To See A Doctor

Schedule an appointment with your healthcare practitioner if you have a severe sore throat, fever, chills, or any signs of quinsy. Early treatment of the illness can help you avoid further consequences.


This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about quinsy or any other medical condition, please see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment suggestions.