Tonsillitis: symptoms, causes and treatment

There are many disorders that can affect the throat, from a simple and annoying pain after having caught cold, to pharyngitis or tonsillitis. In the case of tonsillitis, as its name suggests, is characterized by being the inflammation of the tonsils, which can be one or both.

The tonsils (medically known by the name of palatine tonsils) are oval, fleshy and large tissue masses found in the lateral wall of the oropharynx on each side of the throat). They are clusters of tissue that contain cells that produce useful and necessary antibodies in the fight against infection.

With regard to own tonsillitis by itself, we are faced with an inflammation of one or several lymphatic tonsils, although from a medical point of view this term is used to refer only to the inflammation of the palatine tonsils.

What is tonsillitis?

Is a infectious disease acquired by contagion. Fundamentally there are two routes of contagion: by direct contact (for example, when exchanging saliva, by intimate contact or with contaminated objects), or through the air (when sneezing or coughing).

It basically consists of the inflammation of the tonsils, which as we will see below can be caused by a viral or viral infection, as well as by an infection of bacterial origin.

In the case of tonsillitis of bacterial origin, it is most commonly caused by common bacterial infections, as is the case of the so-called strep throat (throat infection caused by group A streptococcus, causing symptoms such as irritation and pain).

This tonsillitis causes the inflammation of one or both palatine tonsils, which are located on both sides of the throat, on the lateral wall of the oropharynx, and which consist of fleshy and oval-shaped tissue masses.

Viral and bacterial tonsillitis, what are their differences?

As its name indicates, The main difference between viral tonsillitis and bacterial tonsillitisIt is the cause that causes the infection. And it is that, while in viral tonsillitis the cause must be found in the infection caused by a virus, in the case of bacterial tonsillitis it is -obviously- to bacteria.

Viral tonsillitis

Viral tonsillitis is one of the most common and common. In fact, most tonsillitis (or inflammation of the tonsils) are caused by viruses, estimating that 2 out of 3 cases are caused by them.

Among the viruses that most commonly cause tonsillitis, we can mention:

  • Adenovirus:family of viruses that can not only cause infections in the respiratory tract, but also gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis and hemorrhagic cystitis.
  • Influenza virus:It is the main cause of flu or flu, caused by influenza virus A or B.
  • Enterovirus:genus of common viruses that can usually be found in respiratory secretions and bowel movements of infected people.
  • Epstein-Barr virus:virus that causes acute infectious mononucleosis, belonging to the family of herpesviruses.
  • Parainfluenza virus:Also known as parainfluenza virus, it is related to viruses that cause mumps.
  • Herpes simplex virus:causing infectious inflammatory diseases of the viral type. Depending on the type or gender, it can affect different parts of the body, not only the respiratory tract, but also the mucous membranes and the skin.

It is a type of infection most common in young children.

Bacterial tonsillitis

The fundamental cause when we are faced with a bacterial tonsillitis is caused by theStreptococcus pyogene.We must bear in mind that it is a type of tonsillitis that is not very common in young children (under 3 years old), being more common in older children, young people and adults.

The medical treatment of choice in these cases are antibiotics, habitually penicillin / amoxicillinoral every 12 hours, between 8 to 10 days.

Symptoms of tonsillitis

As a general rule, the symptoms of tonsillitis are the following:

  • Sore throat that can be hard and lasts more than 48 hours (2 days)
  • Fever, chills
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Earache
  • Headache
  • Throat sensitivity
  • Sensitivity of the jaw

However, depending on whether the tonsillitis has been caused by viruses or bacteria, its symptoms tend to vary. For example, in the case of viral tonsillitis, it is common to have severe sore throats, not very high fever, mucus and conjunctivitis. As we will know below.

Symptoms of tonsillitis caused by viruses:

  • Gradual start
  • Progressive deterioration.
  • Moderate fever, lower than 39ºC.
  • Reddening of the tonsils.
  • Moderate sore throat.
  • Small nodes in the neck.
  • Mild to moderate increase in the size of one or both angina.

Symptoms of tonsillitis caused by bacteria:

  • Abrupt start.
  • High fever, higher than 39ºC.
  • Increase in the size of the neck ganglia (usually painful on palpation).
  • Headache and / or abdominal pain
  • Nausea and / or vomiting
  • Tonsils very reddened, with increased size and presence on its surface of small hemorrhages, whitish plaques or foci of pus.

Causes of tonsillitis

The most common cause of amygdala is the colonization of the amygdala by viruses that usually affect the respiratory tract. We can also find other viruses, such as the cause of mononucleosis, or HIV or herpes.

It can also be produced by the colonization of the amygdala by bacteria that usually tend to come from the respiratory tract, the oropharynx or the skin. The most common is Streptococcal tonsillitis, produced by the Streptococcus bacteria.

Treatment of tonsillitis

Medical treatment will depend fundamentally on whether we have tonsillitis caused by viruses or bacteria. However, as a general rule, it is advisable to take tempered ground foods (to avoid producing more throat damage), as well as cold drinks or at room temperature.

Treatment of tonsillitis caused by bacteria

This treatment requires the use of a specific antibiotic against the germ that caused the infection. In addition, antipyretics-analgesics are used to mitigate pain and reduce fever.

Treatment of tonsillitis caused by viruses

The treatment is fundamentally symptomatic, using antipyretics-analgesics that allow the control of both fever and pain.

Rinses with antiseptic mouthwashes several times a day can help to avoid colonization of the tonsils by bacteria, or pharynx. REFERENCES

  • Diagnosis of Streptococcal Pharyngitis. Am Fam Physician. 2014; 89 (12): 976-977. PMID: 25162166
  • Different antibiotic treatments for group A streptococcal pharyngitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Sep 11; 9: CD004406. PMID: 27614728
This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor. ThemesRespiratory infections

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