Chronic tonsillitis is mostly caused by bacterial infection and lead to complications if not treated. Tonsillitis, more often than not, is marked by throat irritation, sore throat and fever. Tonsillitis is primarily an inflammation of the tonsils, either of two masses of lymphatic tissue one on each side of the pharynx. Tonsillitis causes include viral or bacterial infection. Regardless of the cause, tonsillitis is contagious and transmitted from one person to another by sneezing and coughing.
However, most cases of tonsillitis are due to a viral infection and do not require antibiotic treatment. Bacterial tonsillitis is caused by streptococcal bacteria that lead to a strep throat. While 30% of cases of tonsillitis in children are due to a strep throat, in adults, it results in tonsillitis only in 10% of the cases. Tonsillitis causes swelling, irritation in the throat and other symptoms but it is not clearly established whether these are due to the infective agents or a weak immune system of the infected individual.
Throat irritation is among the most common among tonsillitis symptoms. Other tonsillitis symptoms are also almost the same as laryngitis and sore throat. These include difficult in swallowing, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, cough and hoarseness. Presence of volatile sulfur compounds due to bacteria feeding on mucus in the pits formed in the tonsils results in bad breath. Clinical examination reveals white pus spots on tonsils, redness of throat and tonsils and tenderness of lymph nodes of the neck.
Initial tonsillitis treatment is focused on pain management and temporary measures such as throat lozenges for relief from irritation in the throat. Over-the counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are used for pain relief. Antibiotics are prescribed only in the case of bacterial infection because they are ineffective against viruses. If the patient is not allergic to penicillin, it is the preferred antibiotic therapy. Erythromycin and clarithromycin are prescribed for individuals allergic to penicillin.
In addition to medical treatment patients are also advised home care such as gargling with warm water mixed with salt and drinking plenty of fluids for management of fever and preventing dehydration, especially in kids. It is also important to complete the course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor even if you see significant improvement in symptoms. If symptoms persist despite treatment, consult your doctor.
Timely tonsillitis treatment is of extreme importance because left untreated it may lead to complications that require surgical treatment. During an infection an abscess may develop by the side of the tonsil, typically in the early stages of infection. In rare cases the infection may also spread to the nearby internal jugular vein resulting in septicemia infection. Chronic tonsillitis may also result in swelling of tonsil to such an extent that swallowing is impaired, which requires tonsillectomy or surgical removal of tonsils.