Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils. The tonsils are a type of lymph node located in the side of the throat and the back of the mouth.
They help to keep bacterias and other germs away from places where they can cause infections.
When a bacteria or virus tries to enter into our body through the nose or mouth, the tonsils absorb these microorganisms and, in many cases, become infected.
The tonsils may become swollen or inflamed when they are affected by bacteria or other substances.
Causes of inflammation of the tonsils
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Usually, the cause of inflammation of the tonsils is caused by viruses, but it can also be caused by the presence of a bacterial infection.
The most common bacterium responsible to cause tonsil inflammation is Streptococcus pyogenes, better known as Group A streptococcus, also responsible for other conditions, such as pharyngitis. Other bacteria may also be involved in the development of the disease.
The following are the most common causes of inflammation in the tonsils:
- Viral or bacterial infection caused by contact with an infected person can cause inflamed tonsils.
- Young children often have chronic tonsillitis due to the common cold or flu virus.
- In adults and adolescents, the tonsils mainly become inflamed due to bacterial infection or throat infections.
- Rarely, bacteria that cause diseases such as scarlet fever or diphtheria can also cause inflamed tonsils.
- Food allergies can also cause inflammation of the tonsils.
Symptoms of tonsil inflammation
Some typical symptoms of tonsillitis include:
- Swollen and red tonsils
- White or yellowish plaques on the tonsils
- Throat Pain
- Difficulty and pain when swallowing
- Lymph nodes in the neck
- Ugly breath
Forecast of inflamed tonsils
The sore throat and swollen tonsils associated with tonsillitis usually go away within two to three days after treatment begins.
It is also noted that some people may require a second round of antibiotics if the first round has not been successful in treating the infection. Tonsillitis usually heals within 10 days.
Complications of inflammation in the tonsils
Tonsillitis caused by Streptococcus can cause rheumatic fever or inflammation of the kidneys (glomerulonephritis) if not treated.
Chronic tonsillitis can cause additional health problems, such as sleep apnea, shortness of breath, infection in surrounding tissues, and abscesses of the tonsils.
Younger people may be more susceptible to the disease than older people. Tonsillitis usually appears in children and pre-teens.
Exposure to viruses and bacteria that cause tonsillitis in young children can be spread, especially in daycare centers and schools.
Treatment of tonsillitis
Bacterial tonsillitis can be treated with antibiotics. It is important to take the antibiotic to the extent prescribed by your doctor, without leaving early on your own, even if symptoms go away during the course of treatment. There is no cure for tonsillitis caused by viruses.
Home treatments such as bed rest, increased fluid intake, and saltwater gargle can help reduce the severity of symptoms and increase comfort until the infection is gone.
You can also try home medicines for swollen tonsils until the initial symptoms are alleviated. If episodes of tonsillitis are recurrent, surgery to remove the tonsils may also be recommended by your doctor.
Diagnosis of Tonsillitis
A physical exam will be done to make the diagnosis. The doctor will examine your mouth and throat to see if your tonsils are inflamed, your breath, and your neck.
After that, some of these tests may be ordered by the specialist:
- Blood cell count
- Mononucleosis test
- Rapid test for streptococcus
And remember, when the first symptoms appear, the first thing you should do is to contact your doctor.