Quinsy (Peritonsillar abscess)

This can develop as a complication of tonsillitis. It is a spreading infection in the tissues surrounding one of the inflamed tonsils.


  • Worsening sore throat, usually one-sided
  • Fever
  • Severe pain
  • Inability to open the mouth (trismus)
  • Drooling
  • Swelling of the face and neck can occur
Quinsy will be suspected in someone whose sore throat gets substantially worse and they become more unwell than is usual with an uncomplicated tonsillitis. Examination of the throat will reveal a very swollen area above and to the side of the inflamed tonsil. The uvula (the tissue that hangs down from the roof of the mouth) may be pushed to one side.

If quinsy is suspected, it will be necessary to go to hospital. If a pocket of pus has formed, this will need to be aspirated. Intravenous antibiotics may be required.

Tonsillectomy may be suggested, but not for some months after the quinsy.

Further information

This article published on
25 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013



Areaof the body

Immune system

Male or female?


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