What is Tonsillitis? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils. In turn, the tonsils are a set of tissues located at the back of the mouth, with one on each side of the throat.

What is the amygdala for?

Tonsils are glands that are part of the immune system and therefore work to prevent infection by potential bacterial or viral organisms that enter the mouth and nose.

However, sometimes the tonsils themselves can become infected, leading to swelling and inflammation of that tissue . Tonsillitis can be caused by viruses or bacteria, although most cases are of viral origin and therefore resolve without the need for antibiotics.

Acute Tonsillitis and Chronic Tonsillitis

Acute tonsillitis usually resolves within 7 to 10 days. However, some individuals with chronic tonsillitis may experience recurrent or continuous symptoms of tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis is more common in children and adolescents, although adults of any age can develop this condition.

Causes of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection . Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by viruses. There are some viruses that can cause tonsillitis, among them are:

  • Adenovirus
  • Enterovírus
  • Influenza virus
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Epstein-Barr vírus (mononucleose)
  • Cytomegalovírus
  • Measles virus
  • Vírus herpes simplex.

Bacterial tonsillitis is often caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, the organism that causes streptococci .

Important: It is very important to know that Bacterial Tonsillitis (which needs antibiotics) does not occur in children under 2 years old and rarely in children under 3 years old.

Tonsillitis Symptoms

There are many symptoms of tonsillitis, some more recurrent and common and easy to diagnose:
Symptoms of tonsillitis can include:

  • Sore throat;
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing;
  • Fever;
  • Difficulty feeding (in babies);
  • Headache;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Cough;
  • Hoarseness;
  • Redness and swelling of the tonsils

Other symptoms such as runny nose, stiffness in the neck glands (swollen lymph glands), spots or white spots on the tonsils, bad breath, redness of the eyes, rash and pain in the ear (caused by nerves that go to the back of the throat and also for the ear) can be observed.

Is tonsillitis contagious?

Tonsillitis is indeed contagious , and the transmission of the disease usually occurs when coming into direct contact with infected individuals. Infectious organisms are usually transmitted through airborne droplets released
during coughing or sneezing, or indirectly through contact with infected surfaces (such as cups, tissues or utensils).

Tonsillitis caused by a virus is often contagious for approximately 7-10 days.

Untreated bacterial tonsillitis can be contagious for about 2 weeks. However, people with bacterial tonsillitis treated with antibiotics usually become non-contagious 24 hours after starting treatment.

When Should I See a Doctor?

Most people who develop tonsillitis will recover completely without medical assistance. People who may have bacterial tonsillitis that need antibiotics should seek medical attention, especially since it is often difficult to differentiate viral tonsillitis from bacterial tonsillitis based on symptoms alone. Therefore, always seek medical attention to know how to differentiate and carry out the appropriate treatment.

Tonsillitis Complications

In some cases, people with tonsillitis may experience complications, such as:

  • Airway blockage due to severely swollen tonsils
  • Extension of infection of the tonsils in the neck, known as peritonsillar abscess. In this case, drainage of the pus that develops on the outside of the throat is necessary. This procedure is done on a surgical basis requiring hospitalization and administration of antibiotic medication directly into the vein.
  • In rare cases, patients with streptococcal tonsillitis can develop rheumatic fever

Tonsillitis diagnosis

In general, the doctor will perform a physical examination, with special attention to the throat and neck area. Virus-caused tonsillitis can look very similar to bacterial tonsillitis, so diagnostic tests (for example, throat culture, rapid strep test ) may be needed to differentiate the two potential causes.

He may also order a rapid strep test, which requires a cotton swab on the back of the throat area. The results of the rapid streptococcal test are generally available within 30 minutes.

Sometimes, a culture of streptococci is sent to the laboratory for confirmation of streptococcal infection , although this result may require 24 to 48 hours.

In rare cases of severe or complicated tonsillitis, blood tests or imaging tests may be ordered. In addition, if other conditions that cause a sore throat are suspected, additional tests may be necessary

Tonsillitis Treatment

Since most cases of tonsillitis are caused by viruses, the body will fight infection and the disease will run its course. In these people, antibiotics are not needed.

However, in people with bacterial tonsillitis, antibiotics are usually prescribed. The antibiotic class of penicillin is the most commonly prescribed.

  • Penicillin can be administered as a single dose injection or it can be prescribed orally (tablets or solution for children).
  • If the patient is allergic to penicillin, alternative antibiotics will be prescribed.
  • Treatment with oral antibiotics is typically prescribed for 10 days.
  • It is important to take all prescribed medication, even if the symptoms disappear and the person feels better before the antibiotic time is up.

Steroids can be prescribed in certain people with tonsillitis in order to decrease inflammation.

How Tonsillitis Recovery Works

In general, the recovery from tonsillitis is excellent and most people recover without complications or long-term problems. Most cases of viral tonsillitis resolve within 7 to 10 days, respecting medical recommendations.

When treated with antibiotics, tonsillitis can be cured in less time. People will begin to feel better within 24 to 48 hours after starting treatment.

The prognosis for those individuals who develop complications from tonsillitis depends on the severity and extent of the complication. Death from tonsillitis or its complications is very rare .

See Also: Is Cold Water for Children Bad for You? Myth or Truth

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My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.

Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.

Dr. Alexis Hart

My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother. Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.

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