Home > Throat Infections > What is Quinsy?

What is Quinsy?

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 2 Jan 2018 | 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?

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I'm feeling your pain right now. 7 days ago I went to the GP for a sore throat. She confirmed tonsillitis and sent me away with ABs and suggested Paracetamol and Advil. After 24 hours of chewing these like popcorn I went to ER. They say the infection but said no quinsy. They treated with steroid, iv antibiotics and morphine. I was discharged with oral abs and stronger pain killers. Within 24 hours i was back at ER after maxing our on the recommended doses of the painkillers. They assured me to persist it will go away. I went home for 4 hours tearing my hair out. Came back and a new doctor in ER identified the quinsy. They calledan ent doctor who lanced it then cut it. He said not much came out. It did feel better and I was admitted overnight to get iv ABs. The next morning discharged but within 12 hours i was back in ER with even worse pain radiating up my neck, ear tonsils, teeth and jawline.I think they thought I was nuts. It took hours to even get a painkiller and 6 hours for the ENT to come back toER. This morning he aspirated the area around the initial incision and pulled out 5ml of pus. It was almost instant relief. I've been relatively pain free for 12 hours now, but I know it's building again. Under the jaw is swelling again and the tonsils are becoming increasingly tender. Still nothing like before but I can see it on the horizon for tomorrow morning. I will make him drain it again. Why won't this thing just die. It's like 4days of iv ABs and 3 of oral ABs, two lancing and drains???
Stu - 2-Jan-18 @ 4:41 PM
I'm feeling your pain right now. 7 days ago I went to the GP for a sore throat. She confirmed tonsillitis and sent me away with ABs and suggested Paracetamol and Advil. After 24 hours of chewing these like popcorn I went to ER. They say the infection but said no quinsy. They treated with steroid, iv antibiotics and morphine. I was discharged with oral abs and stronger pain killers. Within 24 hours i was back at ER after maxing our on the recommended doses of the painkillers. They assured me to persist it will go away. I went home for 4 hours tearing my hair out. Came back and a new doctor in ER identified the quinsy. They calledan ent doctor who lanced it then cut it. He said not much came out. It did feel better and I was admitted overnight to get iv ABs. The next morning discharged but within 12 hours i was back in ER with even worse pain radiating up my neck, ear tonsils, teeth and jawline.I think they thought I was nuts. It took hours to even get a painkiller and 6 hours for the ENT to come back toER. This morning he aspirated the area around the initial incision and pulled out 5ml of pus. It was almost instant relief. I've been relatively pain free for 12 hours now, but I know it's building again. Under the jaw is swelling again and the tonsils are becoming increasingly tender. Still nothing like before but I can see it on the horizon for tomorrow morning. I will make him drain it again. Why won't this thing just die. It's like 4days of iv ABs and 3 of oral ABs, two lancing and drains???
Stu - 2-Jan-18 @ 2:23 PM
I had a burst quinsy in September, worst pain ever and baffled the drs as I have never even had tonsillitis! The worst thing for me has been the recovery, my blood infection levels were apparently very high (508) and I am still very tired 2 months later...I have scar tissue from the large hole in my mouth the quinsy caused and it feels like I have something stiff in the back of my mouth every time I swallow. I havenot found much information about after care so not sure if this is normal ??
Julie Murphy - 27-Nov-17 @ 8:31 PM
I had my tonsils out many years ago. By the age of 24 I had had tonsil issues and quinsy around 5 times a yr each year from the age of 19...age 24 I had them out, a week later, on holiday I'm in agony, I have infection in there, so I get anti bi from the local small hospital, 2 days later, the anti bi have killed the infection which was sealing a vein up, I was bleeding out from the back of my throat, a speedy trip toa large hospital at 4am and I'm back under been re cauterised.....BUT after all that...im kinda glad I had them out...in 24 yrs I haven't had an issue at all.
possette - 26-Sep-17 @ 1:09 PM
I think I may have quincy but I'm not sure. I have recurring tonsillitis but this time the pain is much worse you can't see my tonsil anymore it's just filled with yellow pus, my gland on one side is very swollen and I'm having pain in my ear. I have tried difflam spray and it hasn't work the infection is still there, I can't go to the doctors for at least 4 days as I'm on holiday any suggestions on what I can do??
Rose123 - 20-Sep-17 @ 8:57 AM
My daughter is really poorly with tonsillitis symptoms but she has had Quincy once before and had to be admitted. She has a large lump behind her tonsil and clacker. Tried to get a doctors appt but she could only see a nurse who told her to take painkillers, she has no gall bladder so unsure which meds she can take. Thinking of taking her to A & E as after 4 days she is not getting any better.
Oso113 - 16-Aug-17 @ 12:03 PM
Hi i have re occuring tonilitis all my life. Which recently has started turning into quinsy. So far this year i have had 2 bouts. Both time i have felt the abcess popp and have to cough really hard.... which is so painful and this foul smelling mucus with blood comes up. But because i had a yr with only 2 flare ups . (When i was prgnant)my doc says i have to wait again till i have had at least 5 in one yr. How can i push to get them out. Cause it gets me down every time i get a sore throat i kno its gonna be hell for a week or two. :(
elle - 25-Jul-17 @ 1:10 PM
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
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Ater
    Re: Ulcers In The Throat
    I have been suffering from throats ulcer ,I always her throats ulcer in winter n whenever I get I get admitted n last December I was admitted…
    16 January 2018
  • ramah
    Re: What Are Throat Polyps?
    there is a swollen round flesh in my throat that is preventing me from swallowing food properly.i dont feel any pain but am afraid of…
    8 January 2018
  • Stu
    Re: What is Quinsy?
    I'm feeling your pain right now. 7 days ago I went to the GP for a sore throat. She confirmed tonsillitis and sent me away with ABs and suggested…
    2 January 2018
  • Stu
    Re: What is Quinsy?
    I'm feeling your pain right now. 7 days ago I went to the GP for a sore throat. She confirmed tonsillitis and sent me away with ABs and suggested…
    2 January 2018
  • Gwen
    Re: Ulcers In The Throat
    My sister is 75 and has at least 6 ulcers in her. She is getting skinny because she can't swallow. This has been going on over a year. She…
    29 December 2017
  • theodlein506
    Re: Losing Your Voice
    My voice was cracking for the last 5 month,my voice is now totally lost,very very painfull ,I'm on medication for blood…
    24 December 2017
  • CareyB
    Re: Diphtheria and the Throat
    @Ill bitc - if you have acid reflux, then you should not eat or drink any acidic foods which makes this worse. Citurs fruits, grapes,…
    21 December 2017
  • Ill bit
    Re: Diphtheria and the Throat
    I have very bad acid reflux and COLD . For about 4 years my voice has gotten very horase. It's non stop and people cannot understand…
    21 December 2017
  • Harri
    Re: Losing Your Voice
    @Bev - I really feel for you. I've had voice loss for three days - but 21 weeks :(
    19 December 2017
  • HelenG
    Re: What Are Throat Polyps?
    @Nanamcphee - it could be many things or it could be nothing. Your biopsy will give you the results that will allow you to have a correct…
    19 December 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ThroatProblems website. Please read our Disclaimer.