Tonsillitis is simply the inflammation or swelling up of the tonsils. The tonsils are lymph nodes that are present in the back of the mouth and on top of the throat. The role of the tonsils is to filter out bacteria and other germs to prevent any sort of infections from occurring in the body. The inflammation can also affect other parts of the throat too.
The infection is commonly found among children (3-6 years) and young people and sometimes even in adults. The infection is highly contagious in nature.
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is broadly classified into three types based on the intensity of their symptoms:
1. Acute Tonsillitis
The affected person is said to suffer from acute tonsillitis if there is:
- Slight pain in the inflamed tonsils region.
- Very mild sore throat
- Slight difficulty in swallowing
2. Sub-acute Tonsillitis
During this stage, an affected person can suffer from:
- Difficulty in swallowing food or liquids
- Moderate sore throat
- Bad taste and breath in the mouth
- Jaws and the throat becoming tender
3. Chronic Tonsillitis
This sort of infection may result in longer lasting symptoms such as:
- A potentially severe sore throat that may last longer than 48 hours.
- Headaches or ear pains
- Fevers and chills
- Inflamed and scarred tonsils
Medical tests can also confirm the presence of tonsillitis if:
- The tonsils turn red in color with appearance of white spots on them.
- The lymph nodes present in the jaw and neck become swollen and are tender to the touch.
Causes of Tonsillitis
The root cause of tonsillitis is either by bacterial or viral infestation in the upper respiratory tract which when filtered by our tonsils ultimately might infect the lymph nodes. The most common tonsillitis-causing bacteria is Streptococci while Glandular Fever, a virus illness, is the most common tonsillitis-causing viral infection.
Since tonsillitis is highly contagious, especially through the air, other persons can be affected through contact from a contaminated person (cold, cough, sneeze, sinusitis etc). Dry air, cold weather and other allergens have known to aggravate the conditions of tonsillitis.
Treatment for Tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is commonly referred to as the self-contained illness as it usually does not require any treatment during the primary stages because humans have their own immune power capable of eradicating tonsillitis. It is only during severe conditions (drooling, difficulty in swallowing food, unable to breath etc.) or in cases where symptoms persist for longer than usual when urgent medical attention is required.
Infections caused by bacterial infestation and that caused by virus have different impact on a person and can vary in symptom durations and treatment methods.
Tonsillitis caused by virus
Infection caused by viral infestation could be contagious for about 7-10 days while the untreated conditions may be contagious for up to 2 weeks. Usually no medication is recommended to the patient for this type of infection and is known to abate on its own within a few weeks.
Tonsillitis caused by bacteria
Tonsillitis caused by bacteria react to antibiotics and may be treated by prescribing the right amount of antibiotics such as penicillin to avoid any unexpected complications. The contagious nature of this type of infection usually subsides 24-48 hours after antibiotics medication.