The tonsils are lymph nodes positioned at the rear region of the mouth as well as the throat. The main function of the tonsils is to filter out and prevent infection in the body. It is important to note that the tonsils that are not capable of fighting off viruses or bacteria could end up abruptly swollen or inflamed which is a condition called as acute tonsillitis. Any individual can end up with acute tonsillitis and it is quite common among children.
What are the causes?
The viruses are known to cause most of the cases of acute tonsillitis. The herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, measles and adenovirus causes most cases of this type of tonsillitis. Remember that bacteria are not expected to instigate tonsillitis. When it comes to cases of caused by bacteria, they are initiated by the Streptococcus pyogenes. In some circumstances, a throat swab is carried out to decide on the exact reason for acute tonsillitis.
What are the indications?
The usual indications of acute tonsillitis to watch out for are the following:
- Sore throat
- Swollen tonsils
- Painful swallowing
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Moderate to very high fever
When it comes to severe cases of tonsillitis, it can lead to weakness and fatigue. The symptoms of acute tonsillitis that entail immediate medical care include difficulty breathing and severe difficulty while swallowing. Aside from these indications of tonsillitis, the doctor will also check if the tonsils are coated or have white spots on them.
Cases of acute tonsillitis caused by bacteria are managed with antibiotics including penicillin. The tonsillitis triggered by viral infection can be managed with active self-care measures such as increased intake of fluids, rest, gargling with salt water, over-the-counter pain medications and throat lozenges. In rare circumstances, acute tonsillitis does not respond to treatment or progresses into a recurrent condition, thus it might require surgical removal called as tonsillectomy.
Prognosis and prevention
Acute tonsillitis typically improves in 2-3 days after treatment is started. The prescribed antibiotics must be completed even after the symptoms have subsided. Children who have symptoms of acute tonsillitis must stay at home until the symptoms clear up. This helps prevent the disease from spreading to others.
The most effective way to prevent the spread of tonsillitis is observing proper hygiene. Just like with virus or bacteria, those that cause tonsillitis are considered highly contagious. Regular hand washing as well as avoiding sharing of beverages or food can help reduce the risk of acquiring the condition.
What are the complications?
Even though rare, the possibility of complications after an acute tonsillitis can occur. The possible complications linked with this condition include dehydration, blocked airway, kidney failure, throat abscess and even rheumatic fever. Remember that these complications entail immediate medical care. It is recommended to consult a doctor if the symptoms of acute tonsillitis start to worsen or last longer than 48 hours.