How to treat tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils located at the back of your throat. The tonsils become red and swollen. It usually affects children since they are more likely exposed to germs due to their activities, but adults can also get it. Adults rarely get it may be because as people age, the function of the tonsils declines.

Symptoms of tonsillitis

Some of the symptoms patients with tonsillitis will experience includes:

Sore throat
Hoarse voice
Difficulty swallowing
Feeling of unwellness
Neck pains
difficulty swallowing
difficulty sleeping
swollen lymph glands

Sometimes, patients could experience severe symptoms, such as:

  • stomach pain and vomiting
  • nausea
  • furry tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Spots filled with a white or yellow patch on your tonsils
  • Swollen glands in your neck
  • Difficult in opening the mouth

In more severe cases, some people might develop tonsillolith, also known as tonsil stones. This is when there is a buildup of calcified particles in the tonsil’s crevices. They are difficult to remove but harmless. However, cases like this are rare.

Is tonsillitis contagious?

The infection that causes tonsillitis, either bacterial or viral, is contagious and can spread to others from an infected person. Different ways tonsillitis can spread include:

When someone inhales the respiratory droplets, an infected person generates when they cough or sneeze.

When you touch a contaminated object like a faucet or door nob with your hands, then touch your face.

Once you get infected, you’ll become contagious for 24-48 hours before even seeing the symptoms. And you’ll remain contagious until the symptoms stop.

To prevent the spread of the infection, do the following:

  • Stay off work until the symptom clears. If it’s your child with the illness, you’ll have to keep them home until they get well.
  • Always carry tissues around to use when coughing or sneezing, and throw them away after use.
  • Practice good hygiene. Keep your environment clean.
  • Avoid sharing kitchen utensils with people around you.

How long does tonsillitis last?

Tonsillitis symptoms resolve within 6-10 days. Most people would recover whether they take medication or not.

Home remedies to ease the symptom

If you are yet to see the doctor, you can do the following:

  • Soothe your throat with cool drinks
  • Rest well
  • Gargle saltwater

Seeking medical advice

You can seek medical advice from a pharmacist on how to ease a sore throat. They might offer you lozenges, throat sprays or antiseptic solutions.

When to see a doctor

You might need to see a doctor if the symptoms do not go away after four days or find it difficult to swallow anything because of your throat’s soreness.

If you have difficulty breathing due to a swollen throat, you should see a doctor immediately. Also, visit a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • a stiff neck
  • muscle weakness
  • a high fever
  • a sore throat that persists more than two days

The doctor will ask for your symptoms and proceed to examine the back of your throat for swellings or white spots.

For more diagnosis, the doctor might test you for bacteria by wiping a cotton bud where your tonsils are located. He might also request a blood test to ensure it’s not glandular fever

The treatment will depend on the condition’s cause, and there are two causes, virus and bacteria. If it’s a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. You should feel better after finishing your dosage.

If it’s a viral infection, which is most common, the doctor will advise you to let it run its course since antibiotics won’t be useful for a viral infection.

The doctor will determine the cause of the infection through the test result.


Last updated January 2021


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  1. Pingback: Strep Throat, Sore Throat vs Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis - Online Doctors 24/7

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