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Tonsillitis

Otolaryngology

Tonsils are a pair of tissues located at the back of the throat, on the left and right sides that are part of the body's immune system. Tonsillitis is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection and is a common condition.

Symptoms

Tonsillitis symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Painful redness and swelling of the throat
  • Difficulty and pain in swallowing
  • In severe cases, a small white spot (usually containing pus) may appear on the tonsils.

Symptoms usually go away within three to four days.


 

Causes and risk factors

Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by viral infections. Some cases may also be caused by a bacterial infection, usually a strain of bacteria called Streptococcus aureus.

People at risk

Tonsillitis is a common condition in children and adolescents.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of tonsillitis usually involves the following steps:

Medical History EnquiryInformation about the patient's symptoms, medical history, family history, etc.
Physical examinationExamination of the patient's throat, mouth, neck, etc. to observe the size, shape and colour of the tonsils.
Throat swab testCollection of throat swabs to detect the presence of bacterial infections.
Blood testTo rule out other causes


 

Treatment

The following can help reduce symptoms:

  • Taking painkillers such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers to help relieve the pain.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Getting enough rest

Your doctor will usually prescribe a course of antibiotics if necessary, depending on your condition.

For some patients, such as those with enlarged tonsils that interfere with breathing or cause swallowing difficulties, or children who have had repeated tonsillitis in the past, the doctor may recommend removal of the tonsils, depending on the situation.


 

Impact

Tonsillitis is a common condition that can affect the body in different ways if not treated in time:

Causes swelling of the throat and enlargement of the tonsils, which in turn affects the smoothness of the airways.
Tonsil cysts and abscesses
Tonsillitis caused by certain bacterial infections may lead to serious complications such as scarlet fever, sepsis, etc.

Prevention

Enhance personal hygiene and keep hands clean to avoid contact with viruses and bacteria.
Avoid contact with people who have tonsillitis or sore throat; also, avoid sharing cups and cutlery with them
Adopting a good lifestyle and getting enough sleep and exercise can improve your immunity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sore throat is a common symptom of tonsillitis, but colds, flu or bacterial or viral infections can cause sore throat. Inflammation of the tonsils can cause symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing in addition to a sore throat, so it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider if you are in doubt.

References

  1. Strep Throat, Sore Throat or Tonsillitis: What’s the Difference? - HealthyChildren.org from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/The-Difference-Between-a-Sore-Throat-Strep-and-Tonsillitis.aspx
  2. Children's Health Tips - Sore Throat | Medical and Health Bureau from https://www.healthbureau.gov.hk/pho/files/child_2-4_Sore_throat.pdf
  3. Tonsillitis | Tonsillitis Symptoms | Tonsillitis Treatment | MedlinePlus from https://medlineplus.gov/tonsillitis.html
  4. Tonsillitis - NHS from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tonsillitis/

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