Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils become infected by a virus or bacteria. Tonsils are the fleshy tissue on the back sides of the throat. Tonsillitis is common in children, but adults can suffer from it as well. Symptoms vary according to the overall health of the person infected. Tonsillitis is not fatal and there are a variety of treatments available.
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There are two types of tonsillitis: bacterial and viral. Streptococcus pyogenes is the bacteria that causes bacterial tonsillitis. Streptococcus pyogenes is the same bacteria that causes strep throat. Viral tonsillitis is typically caused by the virus that causes the common cold. Although causes of tonsillitis may vary, the treatments are similar.
Some of the primary symptoms of tonsillitis include the changes that occur when the tonsils become inflamed. An examination by a doctor may reveal that tonsils are red or swollen. White spots on the tonsils are usually an indicator of a bacterial infection. It is not uncommon for the lymph nodes, the tissue on both sides of the neck just below the jaw, to become inflamed and feel firm to the touch.
Most patients experience a sore throat. Some patients have difficulty swallowing or experience pain when swallowing. Severe cases of tonsillitis can cause mild or severe laryngitis. Mild cases of laryngitis may cause the voice to sound scratchy or like the patient has a “frog" in the throat. Severe cases of laryngitis typically cause complete voice loss. Minimizing the amount they must use their voice can help some patients to reduce their risk of experiencing laryngitis or provide relief from tonsillitis. Traditionally, throat-related symptoms are treated with home remedies because there is no cure for a virus which may be causing the tonsillitis.
Because tonsillitis can be caused by an infection or a virus, many patients experience flu-like symptoms. Some patients experience body aches or headaches with associated ear pain or throbbing of the ears. The Mayo Clinic states that children may experience abdominal pain. Some patients report a low grade fever, up to 102 degrees F, and chills. Flu-like symptoms should be treated traditionally to improve the comfort of the patient. Symptoms generally will subside when the virus begins to clear up.
Tonsillitis will generally clear up on its own in seven to 10 days. Drinking plenty of water and warm liquids can help to prevent dehydration and soothe a sore throat. Sucking on over-the-counter throat lozenges can also provide relief. Getting plenty of rest can help the body to repair itself and fight off the virus or bacteria that is causing tonsillitis.