Treatment is by removing the pus, antibiotics, sufficient fluids, and pain medication.Steroids may also be useful. Admission to hospital is generally not needed. In the United States about 3 per 10,000 people per year are affected. Young adults are most commonly affected.
Unlike tonsillitis, which is more common in the children, PTA has a more even age spread, from children to adults. Symptoms start appearing two to eight days before the formation of an abscess. A progressively severe sore throat on one side and pain during swallowing (odynophagia) usually are the earliest symptoms. As the abscess develops, persistent pain in the peritonsillar area, fever, a general sense of feeling unwell, headache and a distortion of vowels informally known as "hot potato voice" may appear. Neck pain associated with tender, swollen lymph nodes, referred ear pain and foul breath are also common. While these signs may be present in tonsillitis itself, a PTA should be specifically considered if there is limited ability to open the mouth (trismus).
Treatment can also be given while a patient is under anesthesia, but this is usually reserved for children or anxious patients. Tonsillectomy can be indicated if a patient has recurring peritonsillar abscesses or a history of tonsillitis. For patients with their first peritonsillar abscess most ENT-surgeons prefer to "wait and observe" before recommending tonsillectomy.
The number of new cases per year of peritonsillar abscess in the United States has been estimated approximately at 30 cases per 100,000 people. In a study in Northern Ireland, the number of new cases was 10 cases per 100,000 people per year.
In Denmark, the number of new cases is higher and reaches 41 cases per 100,000 people per year. Younger children who develop a peritonsillar abscess are often immunocompromised and in them, the infection can cause airway obstruction.
The condition is often referred to as "quincy", "quinsy", or "quinsey", anglicised versions of the French word esquinancie which was originally rendered as squinsey and subsequently quinsy.
^Gavriel H, Lazarovitch T, Pomortsev A, Eviatar E (January 2009). "Variations in the microbiology of peritonsillar abscess". Eur. J. Clin. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 28 (1): 27–31. doi:10.1007/s10096-008-0583-6. PMID18612664.