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Tonsillitis:Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils; two small lymphoid organs that are on each side of the throat. Here's everything you need to know about tonsillitis.

Communicable Diseases By Himanshu Sharma / Oct 06, 2014

What is Tonsillitis?

Tonsils, made of a soft glandular tissue, have a vital part to play in the body's defence – the immune system. The human body has two tonsils, one on either side at the back of the mouth. Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils. (Image source:Gettyimages)


The most common symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat. Besides, one may also develop cough, high temperature (fever) and headache. You may also find swallowing painful and have swollen neck glands. The tonsils may become red or inflamed. (Image source:Gettyimages)


Tonsillitis is mostly a viral infection; however, bacterial infections can also be the cause. The most common bacterium that causes tonsillitis is Streptococcus pyogenes. (Image source:Gettyimages)

Risk Factors

Tonsillitis is most common during the preschool years and until the mid-teenage years. Frequent exposure to germs is another major risk factor. Those who are in close contact with or are frequently exposed to viruses or bacteria are prone to tonsillitis. (Image source:Gettyimages)


Inflammation of the tonsils can lead to complications such as breathing difficulties and obstructive sleep apnea. Sometimes, the infection may spread to surrounding tissues. There can also be a collection of pus behind a tonsil, referred to as tonsillar abscess. Rheumatic fever and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis are among other tonsillitis complications. (Image source:Gettyimages)


A doctor will start with a physical exam using an instrument to look at your throat and also the ears and nose. They also look for palpating neck to check for swollen glands (lymph nodes). Besides, breathing pattern will also be checked with a stethoscope. (Image source:Gettyimages)


At-home care strategies to treat tonsillitis include rest, keeping the throat moist, preventing dehydration, saltwater gargle every two hours, lozenges and fever treatment. If tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics is prescribed. Frequently recurring tonsillitis, chronic tonsillitis or bacterial tonsillitis are sometimes treated with surgery. (Image source:Gettyimages)


The germs that cause tonsillitis are contagious. Practicing good hygiene is the best prevention strategy. To prevent tonsillitis, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, particularly after using the toilet and before eating. (Image source:Gettyimages)


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