Do I have Tonsillitis?

Do I have Tonsillitis

The inflammation of the tonsils is referred to as Tonsillitis. Generally, tonsillitis develops due to viral infection but sometimes it can be caused by bacteria too.

What are tonsils?

The soft gland tissue that is present on either side of the back of the mouth is known as the tonsil. The human system consists of two tonsils, and they provide a defensive mechanism against foreign infections, thereby being an important part of the immune system.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

The most common and the first symptom that tonsillitis tends to show is a sore throat. There may also be a cough, headache, tiredness, high fever, nausea and swollen neck glands. Swallowing may be painful and difficult. The tonsils will appear red and swollen, with white spots (which may be pus filled).

Tonsillitis reaches its peak level after 2 to 3 days and generally the patient recovers within seven to ten days.

The Epstein-Barr causes Glandular fever or Infectious mononucleosis in which there could be severe tonsillitis along with other symptoms.

Is tonsillitis infectious?

The term infectious refers to the transmission of the infection from one to another either through close physical contact or via air (through droplets transmitted by sneezing and coughing).

Tonsillitis, similar to the cold and cough infections, can be spread to other people and therefore is infectious.

When should you contact a doctor?

If the symptoms do not start to ease within 3 to 5 days, it is advised that you should visit the doctor. The following symptoms indicate that it is essential to take professional advice:

  • Having difficulty while breathing
  • Feeling pain and difficulty while opening the mouth
  • Swallowing saliva becomes difficult
  • Persistent high body temperature
  • Weakness, body ache, severe pain, and fatigue
  • When the problem is only on one side of the throat

What are the treatments?

Usually, tonsillitis does not require specific treatment and it tends to go away within 3 to 4 days.

It is essential to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. If the pain is too much, or there is high fever and body ache, pain killers can help provide relief. Other remedies like gargles, sprays, and lozenges can also help in soothing the sore throat and provide temporary relief from the pain.

Tonsillitis is mainly caused by a virus, but sometimes it can be caused by bacteria too.

Antibiotics can be used for bacterial tonsillitis; however they do not help at all with viral infections. Even for tonsillitis caused by bacterial infections, antibiotics may fail to make any significant difference.

Individuals suffering from recurrent tonsillitis may need to consult with their doctor on the possible removal of the tonsils via surgery. This surgery process is known as tonsillectomy.

Do I need an antibiotic for tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is mostly caused by viral infections, but sometimes bacteria can also cause tonsillitis.

The exact cause of tonsillitis is difficult to ascertain without tests. Antibiotics fail to fight viral infection and also fail to produce any significant difference in case of bacterial tonsillitis. The immune system of humans is capable of fighting the agents that cause tonsillitis by producing antibodies. Hence, tonsillitis usually clears up within a week. Since antibiotics produce no significant benefits in this case and can in fact cause other side effects such as diarrhea, rashes and loss of appetite, it is not recommended to take antibiotics for tonsillitis, usually.

However, they may be recommended in case the symptoms do not get better in a week, there are severe symptoms, or if your immune system is compromised.

What is the outlook?

Usually, tonsillitis issues go away within a week without any long-term effects. However, sometimes tonsillitis can get severe leading to several complications. These complications include the risk of the infection spreading to nearby tissues leading to recurrent sinus infections or chest infections.

What is a peritonsillar abscess?

This is a rare condition where an abscess (collection of pus) develops near the tonsil, caused due to bacteria. This condition usually affects only one side and may or may not occur as a part of tonsillitis.

The abscess pushes the tonsil towards the middle, making it look swollen and making it extremely uncomfortable. This is usually treated with antibiotics, but sometimes surgery maybe required to drain the abscess. It is also sometimes called a ‘ Quinsy’. This needs urgent medical attention.

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