Major Differences Between Tonsillitis and Sinus Infections

by | Sep 25, 2023 | Sinusitis Health, Tonsillitis

It is the time of year when you wake up feeling congested and even feel as though your throat may be sore, and you see signs of an infection within your body. It can be hard to determine if you have a cold, sinus infection or if your symptoms are actually a sign of tonsillitis with infections developing. It is important to know the difference between them to be treated appropriately with C/V ENT Group moving forward.

What Is A Sinus Infection?

One of the most common diagnoses during the winter months and weather changes is a sinus infection. This is an infection of your sinuses and nasal cavities. It is often triggered by either allergies or a cold virus that has entered the body. When the congestion starts to build, the discomfort in the sinuses elevates and causes several symptoms that last for several days to a couple of weeks, depending on the severity of the infection.

Sinus Infection Symptoms

The most common sinus infection symptoms are often similar in each patient. They include the following:Differences Between Tonsillitis and Sinus Infections - C/V ENT Surgical Group

  • Sinus Headaches
  • Nasal Drip – usually colored
  • Throat Irritation and Soreness from postnasal drip
  • Congestion

Sinus Headaches

One of the first signs of a sinus infection, sinus headaches, often develop on one side of the head and near the eyes and feel like pressure pushing down. Because there is swelling in your sinuses triggering these headaches, many often also have ear pain and even jaw pain because of the pressure pushing down. In many cases, these headaches are centralized to one side or the other.

Nasal Drip

When your sinuses become infected, they need a place to drain the building’s congestion and infection. This is known as the nasal drip and when infected is usually colored (yellow or green), where the congestion goes down your throat when you cannot blow your nose or blow it all out.

Throat Irritation and Soreness

Many who suffer from a sinus infection notice that they have a sore throat for several days or their throat is irritated until the infection passes. This is from the constant drip of the congestion and mucus going down the back of the throat constantly, tickling it and causing irritation. When this happens, you may find that you have a hoarse voice from the irritation, and it could take a week or more to regain your voice completely.


Probably one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of a sinus infection is congestion. You find yourself wanting to blow your nose constantly, and it may even force you to breathe by mouth if your nasal cavities are clogged with congestion. When this congestion starts to drain, then the other symptoms take on, affecting your throat and discomfort.

What Is Tonsillitis?

Your tonsils in the back of your throat are meant to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses that enter your body. Over time, they can also become infected from the different things they are fighting off, enflaming the tonsils and causing tonsillitis. If this is a chronic illness that you suffer from, your doctor may recommend that you remove your tonsils. When they no longer respond to treatment or can no longer fight off these viruses and bacteria, it is better to have them removed and prevent a constant infection in the body.

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

When you develop tonsillitis, there are a few symptoms that stand out right away and let you know that this is what you are dealing with.

  • Swollen Tonsils
  • Coated Tonsils
  • Neck Pain
  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen Neck Glands
  • Severe pain with swallowing
  • Referred ear pain
  • Scratchy Voice

Swollen Tonsils

This is the most common sign of Tonsillitis. When you look in the back of your throat, the two oval-shaped tonsils that sit on either side will be swollen, red and look as though they may even touching. This means an infection of some kind, either viral or bacterial, affecting your tonsils.

Coated Tonsils

When your tonsils are swollen, they also have a coating on them or patches that are either white or yellow. This is a sure sign of infection within your tonsils. Antibiotics or other treatments will be needed right away to combat the Tonsillitis.

Neck Pain and Swollen Neck Glands

Because your tonsils are swollen around your throat, you can often experience some neck pain with tonsillitis. Your neck is not accustomed to that type of pressure in this area, and it can make your neck feel swollen and have discomfort. Since your tonsils are fighting an infection within the body, you may experience swollen neck glands as a reaction to the nearby infection. This, too, could cause pain and discomfort in the neck area.

Sore Throat and Scratchy Voice

Because it is hard to eat and swallow, a sore throat is commonly associated with tonsillitis. It would be best to drink lots of fluid to keep your throat and body hydrated for the symptoms’ duration. You can expect to have a scratchy voice because of your sore throat while your tonsils are swollen until the inflammation goes down in the tonsil and neck area.   Motrin and Advil helps decrease the inflammation and pain.

Similarities Between A Sinus Infection and Tonsillitis

While these two disorders affect different parts of the body, there are similarities between the two that can confuse or affect the other.


A sinus infection and tonsillitis are caused by either a bacterial infection or a viral infection that has entered the body and taken residence in either the tonsils or your sinuses. Because of this, they can be treated similarly.

Sore Throat

Whether you are suffering from inflamed tonsils or a post-nasal drip from your sinus infection, you can experience a sore throat with either of these infections, which is painful and causes immense discomfort.

Chronic Cases

Unfortunately, both of these disorders can be chronic, meaning that they can happen consistently. If you are constantly battling a sinus infection or tonsillitis, it is time for medical assistance and possibly surgery.

Call C/V ENT Surgical Group Today

If you have been battling either a sinus infection or tonsillitis with no relief, it is time to reach out to our office today. We look forward to scheduling a consultation and getting you the assistance you need.