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What is Quinsy?

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 11 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Quinsy Tonsil Tonsils Peritonsillar

Often mistaken for common tonsillitis, quinsy has the potential to be very serious. Although it may begin with the same symptoms as tonsillitis, it is generally a worse form of the complaint and in the worst case may endanger life.

What Exactly Is Quinsy?

Quinsy is a common name given to peritonsillar abscess formation in the tonsil area. It affects people in their late teens and adulthood and usually affects one tonsil more than the other. It has the potential to be very dangerous if left untreated.

What Are The Symptoms?

Peritonsillar abscesses start as a sore throat and inflammation of the tonsils. It develops into pus filled abscesses on the tonsil area making swallowing very difficult and extremely painful, sometimes nearly impossible.

Along with this, there is often a high temperature and a general feeling of being unwell. You or those around you may have noticed a foul smelling breath odour and a visible swelling to the neck area. It is also likely that you will suffer from referred pain in the ears and neck area in general and a distinct change in your vocal ability and normal sound.

With quinsy, comes a lot of swelling of the area and surrounding tissues. This is what makes it so difficult to swallow and causes the pain.

How Is It Treated?

As many healthcare professionals are now convinced that most sore throats, even very bad ones, will heal on their own, people are afraid to go to their doctor with a sore throat complaint meaning that there is the potential for the condition to go undiagnosed until it becomes dangerous; quinsy, however is not very common these days.

If your doctor thinks that you have a mild form of quinsy or typical Tonsillitis, you may be fortunate enough to be offered a course of antibiotics which will help the body fight the bad bacteria away and reduce the swelling and abscesses.

For others though, surgery may be necessary in which the abscess is incised and drained and a course of antibiotics is given after the procedure. This will require a visit to hospital and the use of a general anaesthetic while the procedure is being carried out followed by the antibiotics and pain relief.

The Dangers Of Quinsy

This condition carries several dangers, some more serious than others. In the worst case scenario, the individual may have a large, pus filled cavity to their tonsil which has the potential of bursting at any time. If this happens, the person may inhale the contained pus as they breathe, in which case the poison can enter their lungs; this is known as aspiration. It is made worse by the fact that the fluid they are inhaling is infected, it is thick and the body is already struggling to fight off the bacteria.

When a person aspirates their lungs are a lot less able to function properly as the lungs cannot exchange oxygen and other gases as well as the fluid is preventing this natural action; in the worst case, this can cause severe damage, sometime irreparable.

If suspected, quinsy should be treated as an urgent medical case and you should go and see your doctor urgently for treatment.

What Next?

If you are worried about contracting Quinsy or would like to know more about it read our article on Can You Still Get Quinsy?

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[Add a Comment]
StarshipRanger - Your Question:
Hi all,Update on my comment from last year - I had a tonsillectomy and my instincts were right.I had a quinsy hiding under my left tonsil which is why my throat was so swollen and the infection wasn't going! It had been sitting there since August the previous year - which is actually really dangerous apparently.Honestly, having my tonsils taken out was the best decision I ever made so if you have the opportunity, I really, really recommend it!! (It is 2 weeks of pure hell afterwards while you recover but the end result is so worth it). I had the operation in the beginning of July 2016 and haven't had so much as a sore throat since!

Our Response:
The removal of tonsils perhaps may not work for everyone - but it's great it has worked for you. We hope you remain sore throat free from now on.
ThroatProblems - 15-Feb-17 @ 11:37 AM
Hi all, Update on my comment from last year - I had a tonsillectomy and my instincts were right...I had a quinsy hiding under my left tonsil which is why my throat was so swollen and the infection wasn't going! It had been sitting there since August the previous year - which is actually really dangerous apparently. Honestly, having my tonsils taken out was the best decision I ever made so if you have the opportunity, I really, really recommend it!! (It is 2 weeks of pure hell afterwards while you recover but the end result is so worth it). I had the operation in the beginning of July 2016 and haven't had so much as a sore throat since!
StarshipRanger - 14-Feb-17 @ 12:53 PM
Hi well I am in hospital right now on IV antibiotics and pain killers. This whole thing has really caught me by surprise. Im a healthy 23 year old male which has never really suffered any issues with my tonsils or throat but started feeling pain in my right tonsil only 6 days ago. At first thought nothing much of it. After 2 days though it had already deteriorated much beyond that of a sore throat and I had a new found respect for people who suffered from tonsilitis as the pain was unreal and was only about to get much worse. It was about 2 days ago where I decided this wasnt a normal infection and went to my GP who put me on some extremely strong oral antibiotics and told me head straight to A&E if anything gets worse. Well after taken a day of the medication my throat had swelled so much and became constantly filled with mucus and puss that swallowing wasnt possible and I became very anxious about my capabilities to breath so headed straight to A&E. Since then had a syringe and needle attack the infected area and then a scapel cut it open. The scapel was much more effective and comfortable as job was done quickly. I am on anti inflamatories, morphine should I wish to have it and just your general fluids. Thank god I came to hospital is all I can say because all I know for sure was my problem continued to deteriorate and the pain was just something else. If I wasnt embarrased about going to hospital over a sore throat I would have came sooner and not allow myself to get to the border of needing intervention. For the first time in 5 - 6 days Im finally comfortable again.
Ashley - 10-Feb-17 @ 10:08 PM
KathyT- Your Question:
Just been discharge from hospital after being treated for "Quinsy" Oh my days, what a painful illness and the treatment wasn't pleasant either but relief was immense once they lanced it. Was misdiagnosed initially by my first doctor, sent away with tablets that didn't touch the infection. My throat, ears and swallowing were so painful, couldn't swallow my spit in the end. Foul tasting mouth, was effecting my voice, difficulty opening my mouth, eating was impossible. Happy when I was asleep and dribbling which wasn't often as I was in too much pain, cried a lot as the pain in unbearable. Went back to the doctors and saw my other doctor who had this herself she immediately referred me to hospital, went home packed a bag and went in. After the camera down my nose and three lancing injections in my throat to remove the pus and a 26 hrs in hospital on an IV receiving strong anti-biotics, steroids and saline, feeling a lot better. 10 days course of tablets, two types and hoping that I never get that this again, if you think you've got this go straight to the doctors, it's dangerous the cyst bursts and the pus enters your lungs.

Our Response:
We are just glad you have now recovered and it is all but a horrible memory! Your experience sounds awful.
ThroatProblems - 26-Jan-17 @ 2:50 PM
Just been discharge from hospital after being treated for "Quinsy" Oh my days, what a painful illness and the treatment wasn't pleasant either but relief was immense once they lanced it. Was misdiagnosed initially by my first doctor, sent away with tablets that didn't touch the infection.My throat, ears and swallowing were so painful, couldn't swallow my spit in the end. Foul tasting mouth, was effecting my voice, difficulty opening my mouth, eating was impossible. Happy when I was asleep and dribbling which wasn't often as I was in too much pain, cried a lot as the pain in unbearable. Went back to the doctors and saw my other doctor who had this herself she immediately referred me to hospital, went home packed a bag and went in. After the camera down my nose and three lancing injections in my throat to remove the pus and a 26 hrs in hospital on an IV receiving strong anti-biotics, steroids and saline, feeling a lot better. 10 days course of tablets, two types and hoping that I never get that this again, if you think you've got this go straight to the doctors, it's dangerous the cyst bursts and the pus enters your lungs.
KathyT - 25-Jan-17 @ 8:51 PM
Hi- I can feel your pain. I had quincy when my daughter was 2mnths old. I spent days and nights crying infront of my basin as I was so thursty but couldn't get a drop of water. To go down my throat not even my own spit. Went to the clinic, they took one look and refured me straight to the hospital where I got given antibiotics interveinesly for 3 days straight. I thought I was gonna die.
tony - 23-Jan-17 @ 10:34 AM
I think I may have Quincy, there is yellow pus on back of my throat and im finding it hard to swallow or even drink
Dave - 27-Dec-16 @ 3:11 PM
Doctor said I had tonsillitis but that he thinks it'll go without antibiotics and to have difflam spray and ibuprofen. It has not helped at all, the spray is stinging AMD doesn't numb or make it better. It's been over a week my ear hurts I can barely swallow, my breath smells of meat (embarrassing) and my tonsil still only hurts on the same side of ear BUT has shrunk in backwards like there's no tonsil there. I only find stuff on enlarged tonsils, could it still be quinsy with a shrunken eroding looking and feeling tonsil?
Siby - 13-Nov-16 @ 11:01 PM
Phoned* drained* I didn't know at the time l had cancer hat to stupid fne with it predictive txtz...
nicky - 22-Oct-16 @ 1:49 AM
I had Quinsy l was really really bad l left it a week to the point l couldn't talk at all l was thinking l had tonsillitis. I left it 4 days then before leaving new it looks could walk or talk at all l fault like l was dieing l wen the doctor and they feed a ambulance rushed me straight in l hat to have a needle down my throat and have the puss trained out of my throat l was in hospital for 2 weeks cuz l was so ill let didn't know at the time l hadon't cancer till 3 mths after and that's why l kept getting ill the infection spread to my chest and l hat to have drained l was on a drip for 2 weeks never been so I'll in all my life the worst feeling ever....
nicky - 22-Oct-16 @ 1:44 AM
StarshipRanger - I hope you are healed now but I would recommend you all to check your vitamin D levels or just add some to your everyday diet. It helps me to keep healthy. Wishing you all a great health :-)
B.D. - 16-Oct-16 @ 4:03 PM
I've had quinsy twice now and have realised that not many doctors know about this very much. It was around back in the days but not as much now but looks like it's on a come back. Just wanna say if you feel weak, ears and throat hurting plus your in a lot of pain? Then go to hospital cos it's a waste of time going to the doctors.
lisa - 26-Sep-16 @ 10:27 PM
My son has just been in hospital having been diagnosed with quincy.He had a procedure to drain it was given anti biotic and sent home.He has been taking the tablets for 48hrs now and has just started to cough up some nasty tasting gunk. Is this normal
s gittins - 10-Sep-16 @ 8:21 PM
Missie - Your Question:
Hello. Last week I went to work feeling really hot with a realy sore throat, went to the doctors & dtold I had quinsy' was given 10 day course of penicillin, my throat is still sore, temperature has gone but ear & jaw still hurt, when should I go back to work. Could someone advice me please

Our Response:
If you are unsure whether you feel well enough, then your doctor will be the person to advise whether or not you should return to work.
ThroatProblems - 4-Aug-16 @ 11:25 AM
Hannah - Your Question:
Thank for the information on this disease.I always suffer from tonsils ,not knowing that they can be as dangerous as this.Thank you

Our Response:
We are glad the information has helped inform you of the warning signs and symptoms.
ThroatProblems - 1-Aug-16 @ 11:55 AM
Thank for the information on this disease.I always suffer from tonsils ,not knowing that they can be as dangerous as this. Thank you
Hannah - 31-Jul-16 @ 3:59 PM
Hi I'm Shannon I have an enlarged tonsils for 2 weeks now and I was sick earlier this morning and it contained blood and I'm struggling to breath and I feel I need to go to hospital but I thought I'd ask for advice. Please help me
Shan - 3-Jul-16 @ 8:30 PM
On Wednesday I started to feel abit un well my full body was aching and mu throqt and ears,I got prescribed antibiotics on the Friday, I have to take eight a day its now my third day of taking them and I don't feel any different my ears are still really hurting me aswell as my throat, I havnt been able to eat for four days and a massive headache, I'm hoping its tonsillitis but since ive been reading this I think I might have Quincy,help?
lucy - 22-May-16 @ 10:36 AM
I was prescribed Strong Penicillin tablets for tonsillitis, have finished Course. GP said it would dissolve. White pus lump still there, might be tiny bit smaller, unless that's wishful thinking. The antibiotics were so Strong I halved the dose & therefore it took that much longer, but, still there. I sneeze a lot @ times & have a chesty cough & just feel tired/achy all the time. What do you think I should do, give it more time? Please advise me if you can honestly as beginning to get on my nerves now, thank you!
Dotty - 16-May-16 @ 10:01 AM
Hello. Last week I went to work feeling really hot with a realy sore throat, went to the doctors & dtold I had quinsy' was given 10 day course of penicillin, my throat is still sore, temperature has gone but ear & jaw still hurt, when should I go back to work. Could someone advice me please
Missie - 6-May-16 @ 9:00 AM
Sorry, I have no idea why my comment posted 3 times...
StarshipRanger - 29-Apr-16 @ 11:40 AM
Hi all, I've had chronic tonsillitis since August last year and have been hospitalised 3 times for it. The last time I was in hospital was the end of March, and since then I have had tonsillitis twice. I got put on different antibiotics as my doctor said my body has now got a resilience to penicillin as I've been on it so much. I was given a 2 week course of Clarithromycin, but 2 days after finishing them I was prescribed more as my tonsils became infected again. I am currently on day 3 of this course, and the pain has been different this time, on one side of my throat, and it stings when anything goes down, feels like a cut or blister. This morning I felt something rupture in my throat, and swallowed foul tasting liquid - instant relief! Should I be concerned though? all liquid that was released went down my throat, as I'm at work and didn't think it was appropriate to spit it out. I'm worried that it was a quinsy and I've read that it can be really dangerous if it ruptures? I've got a consultation next week as the doctors at the hospital have decided that my tonsils need to come out, I'm just worried that I'm not going to be free of the infection long enough for them to do it, as it seems as soon as I finish antibiotics, it comes back. It hurts so bad, and I can't sleep, I just need them gone.
StarshipRanger - 29-Apr-16 @ 11:39 AM
Hi all, I've had chronic tonsillitis since August last year and have been hospitalised 3 times for it. The last time I was in hospital was the end of March, and since then I have had tonsillitis twice. I got put on different antibiotics as my doctor said my body has now got a resilience to penicillin as I've been on it so much. I was given a 2 week course of Clarithromycin, but 2 days after finishing them I was prescribed more as my tonsils became infected again. I am currently on day 3 of this course, and the pain has been different this time, on one side of my throat, and it stings when anything goes down, feels like a cut or blister. This morning I felt something rupture in my throat, and swallowed foul tasting liquid - instant relief! Should I be concerned though? all liquid that was released went down my throat, as I'm at work and didn't think it was appropriate to spit it out. I'm worried that it was a quinsy and I've read that it can be really dangerous if it ruptures? I've got a consultation next week as the doctors at the hospital have decided that my tonsils need to come out, I'm just worried that I'm not going to be free of the infection long enough for them to do it, as it seems as soon as I finish antibiotics, it comes back. It hurts so bad, and I can't sleep, I just need them gone.
StarshipRanger - 29-Apr-16 @ 10:48 AM
Hi all, I've had chronic tonsillitis since August last year and have been hospitalised 3 times for it. The last time I was in hospital was the end of March, and since then I have had tonsillitis twice. I got put on different antibiotics as my doctor said my body has now got a resilience to penicillin as I've been on it so much. I was given a 2 week course of Clarithromycin, but 2 days after finishing them I was prescribed more as my tonsils became infected again. I am currently on day 3 of this course, and the pain has been different this time, on one side of my throat, and it stings when anything goes down, feels like a cut or blister. This morning I felt something rupture in my throat, and swallowed foul tasting liquid - instant relief! Should I be concerned though? all liquid that was released went down my throat, as I'm at work and didn't think it was appropriate to spit it out. I'm worried that it was a quinsy and I've read that it can be really dangerous if it ruptures? I've got a consultation next week as the doctors at the hospital have decided that my tonsils need to come out, I'm just worried that I'm not going to be free of the infection long enough for them to do it, as it seems as soon as I finish antibiotics, it comes back. It hurts so bad, and I can't sleep, I just need them gone.
StarshipRanger - 29-Apr-16 @ 10:36 AM
BB - Your Question:
I developed Quinsy within minutes I had been to work for 7 hours came home fell asleep for 1 hr and woke up with a swelling one side if my mouth and pain in my ear and jaw. I was up all night taking pain killers, the next day managed to get a appointment with my GP who was very concerned and had a feeling it was a quinsy so she discussed with ENT and they had me in hospital within 2 hours. I even had dental scans just in case it was a tooth abscess but that was ruled out. The doctor was very concerned that my throat would close over so said I would have to have a camera up my nose and down into my throat to see what was going on, then she inserted a needle into the swelling to see if she could draw off any pus ( which she couldn't ) , both procedures were very distressing and uncomfortable but had to be done. I stayed in hospital for 2 1/2 days on antibiotics/steroids/painkillers, they said if the swelling had not gone down overnight then they would need to operate, thankfully it started to go down but I was sent hope this morning still with a slight swelling and a 7 day course of antibiotics. The doctor said it MIGHT come back and if so go straight to A & E. Needless to say I am very scared, this is the worst thing I have every experienced in my entire life. Please don't get fobbed off by your doctor as being a virus. believe me its very dangerous and needs immediate attention.

Our Response:
We certainly hope you are feeling better now and have had the treatment you need.
ThroatProblems - 21-Apr-16 @ 11:55 AM
I developed Quinsy within minutes I had been to work for 7 hours came home fell asleep for 1 hr and woke up with a swelling one side if my mouth and pain in my ear and jaw... I was up all night taking pain killers, the next day managed to get a appointment with my GP who was very concerned and had a feeling it was a quinsy so she discussed with ENT and they had me in hospital within 2 hours.I even had dental scans just in case it was a tooth abscess but that was ruled out. The doctor was very concerned that my throat would close over so said I would have to have a camera up my nose and down into my throat to see what was going on, then she inserteda needle into the swelling to see if she could draw off any pus ( which she couldn't ) , both procedures were very distressing and uncomfortable but had to be done. I stayed in hospital for 2 1/2 days on antibiotics/steroids/painkillers, they said if the swelling had not gone down overnight then they would need to operate, thankfully it started to go down but I was sent hope this morning still with a slight swelling and a 7 day course of antibiotics.The doctor said it MIGHT come back and if so go straight to A & E.Needless to say I am very scared, this is the worst thing I have every experienced in my entire life.Please don't get fobbed off by your doctor as being a virus... believe me its very dangerous and needs immediate attention.
BB - 20-Apr-16 @ 1:54 PM
Hi I had to look this up as someone told me I may have this as I have been so I'll last few daysI have suffered a sore throat before but this is behone just a sore throat.It's so painful I can't swallow when I Try it is unbearable it's the top of my mouth in side to the back of throatmy throat feels like a further Ball and blistered I have sweated through the night my ears are in so much pain and my neck is killing mebeen docs and said it's just a virus didn't give me anything at all but I just feel something is not right
Caroaks - 11-Apr-16 @ 4:39 PM
I had quinsy several years ago.The pain was out of this world, especially my ear.I went to the doctors every day for a week.They said throat infection and an ulcer.Believe me there is a huge difference.The abscess burst and as I was sat up right I manage to spit it out.I even explained this to the doctor/s.I held a boiling hot water bottle to my face which was my only relief but not much.After 7 days of doctors i was referred to hospital. I felt like I had wasted time of the doctors because it was just a sore throat. I was 47.The hospital were surprised and said should it reoccur my tonsil would have to be removed partly because of my age.
nick - 10-Apr-16 @ 5:00 PM
Lozbee - Your Question:
Iam in hospital suffering quinsy I came in this morning and the said nothing they can do so I went home and my tongue started to get big and not breath my amazing 12 year old daughter was on the phone to the ambulance was so proud stil sore abit but on a lot of pain relief my daughter saved my life

Our Response:
We are sorry to hear you are suffering, but you are in the best hands. Well done your daughter for taking the initiative. We hope you feel better soon.
ThroatProblems - 7-Apr-16 @ 10:42 AM
Iam in hospital suffering quinsy I came in this morning and the said nothing they can do so I went home and my tongue started to get big and not breath my amazing 12 year old daughter was on the phone to the ambulance was so proud stil sore abit but on a lot of pain relief my daughter saved my life
Lozbee - 6-Apr-16 @ 6:40 AM
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