Sore Throat: Is it Strep Throat, Tonsillitis or Just Cold? Part III
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils that is also associated with the symptoms of sore throat. Many types of bacteria or viruses can produce this infection. Tonsils are part of the immune system and are responsible for fighting infections. When they become infected, the condition is known as tonsillitis, which is characterized by a painful throat and other symptoms.
Symptoms and Signs of Tonsillitis
Sore throat is the first symptom that is accompanied by nasal congestion, and other symptoms. The list of common symptoms of tonsillitis includes:
- Sore throat
- Swollen and red tonsils
- Pain and difficulty while swallowing food or drink
- High fever and chills
- Swollen and painful glands in the neck
- Presence of pus on the tonsils
- Pain in the ears
- A feeling of illness
Some less common symptoms are:
- Change in voice
- Foul smelling breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
Diagnosis of Tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is usually caused by bacterial infection and to find out the actual cause, a throat swab is collected and sent to the pathological laboratory for culture examination. It is a painless procedure in which a cotton swab is wiped over the surface of the tonsils and the back of throat. The result of the examination is obtained within a couple of days and can help in determining the presence or absence of bacteria. If the bacteria are found, it confirms the diagnosis of tonsillitis or strep throat.
Treatment of Tonsillitis
The treatment of tonsillitis consists of rest, pain and fever relieving medicines, soothing of sore throat, antibiotics and surgery when required.
Tonsillitis caused by viruses is self-limiting, gets better within a week, and does not require the use of antibiotics.
Generally the treatment of tonsillitis is as follows:
- Increased intake of fluids
- Food should be soft and soothing like gelatin, ice cream, shakes, soup, and other such foods
- For soothing the sore throat, lozenges and salty water gargles are recommended.
- To relieve the nasal congestion, nasal decongestant sprays and vaporizer can be used.
- For relieving fever and pain, medicines like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or naproxen are used. Aspirin is not recommended for use in children because of its side effects.
- Antibiotics are only used when the condition is caused by bacterial infection.
- If the condition persists for a long duration of time or if there are repeated attacks of infections of the tonsils, surgery may be recommended.
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