Tonsillitis causes, symptoms and treatments

Tonsillitis is mostly caused by a virus and is often preceded by a cold (a runny nose, cough and sore eyes). Fewer cases (about one in seven) are caused by bacteria. Streptococcus is the most common type of bacteria involved (also known asā€˜strep’ throat). The tonsils are areas of lymphoid tissue on either side of the throat. Most commonly, the term “tonsils” refers to the palatine tonsils that can be seen in the back of the throat.

There are 2 main types of it: Acute can either be viral or bacterial in origin. Actinomyces bacterium causes subacute. Chronic if not treated can last for long periods, is mostly caused by bacterial infection. They may become so overwhelmed by bacterial or viral infection that they become inflamed, and swell causing tonsillitis. The infection may be present in the throat and also the surrounding areas causing pharynx inflammation. The pharynx is between the tonsils and the voice box (larynx) in the back of the throat.

Symptoms of it include a severe sore throat (which may be experienced as referred pain to the ears), painful swallowing, coughing, headache, myalgia (muscle aches), fever and chills. It is characterized by signs of swollen, red tonsils which may have a purulent exudative coating of white patches (i.e. pus). Swelling of the eyes, neck, and face may occur.

Under normal circumstances, as viruses and bacteria enter the body through the mouth and nose, they are filtered in the tonsils. The tonsils surround them with white blood cells which cause the body to develop a fever that can become extremely high in children. If the infection becomes serious, the tonsils will become painful and inflame. The infection may also be present in the throat and surrounding areas, causing pharynx inflammation.

Treatments of it consist of pain management medications and lozenges. If it is caused by bacteria, then antibiotics are prescribed, with most commonly used penicillin. For patients allergic to penicillin erythromycin and clarithromycin are used.

In many cases of tonsillitis, the pain caused by the inflamed tonsils warrants the prescription of topical anesthetics for temporary relief. Viscous lidocaine solutions and anaesthetic throat lozonges containing benzocaine, benzydamine, lignocaine, and flubiprofen are widely available without prescription.

Ibuprofen or other analgesics such as aspirin or paracetamol can help to decrease the edema and inflammation, which will ease the pain and hence allow the patient to swallow liquids sooner. Gargling with a solution of warm water and salt may reduce swelling and pain. If you are suffering from tonsilloliths (Tonsil stones) try to avoid dairy products like ice cream, yogurt, milk, etc.