The tonsils are small glands located on either side of the throat. They are essentially glands that help maintain immunity and protect oral entry by pathogens (germs). Tonsillitis describes a condition where these tonsils become infected or inflamed, swollen. You can find more information below.

What is tonsillitis (swelling)?

The tonsils are two lymph nodes located on either side of the throat. They act as a defense mechanism and help prevent the body from becoming infected. When the tonsils become infected, this condition is called tonsillitis or swelling (also called tonsillitis ).

Inflammation of the tonsils can occur at any age and is a common childhood disease. It is most often diagnosed in children around preschool age. Symptoms include sore throat, swollen tonsils and fever.

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This condition can be contagious and can be caused by a variety of common viruses and bacteria, such as the Streptococcal bacteria that cause strep throat. Swelling or inflammation of the tonsils (tonsillitis) caused by streptococcal sore throat can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Tonsillitis is very easy to diagnose. Symptoms usually go away within 7 to 10 days. We have written everything in detail below, from the types of tonsillitis to their treatments.

acute tonsillitis

Acute tonsillitis or swelling is incredibly common in children. In fact, almost every child will likely get tonsillitis at least once.

If symptoms last about 10 days or less, it is considered acute. If symptoms last longer or come back many times during the year, you may have chronic or recurrent tonsillitis.

It is likely possible to treat acute tonsillitis at home, although other treatments such as antibiotics may be required in some cases.

Chronic tonsillitis

Symptoms of chronic tonsillitis or swelling (tonsillitis) last longer than acute. In this case, the patient may experience the following symptoms for a long time:

  • Throat ache
  • bad breath
  • Tender lymph nodes in the neck

Chronic tonsillitis can also cause tonsil stones, in which substances such as dead cells, saliva and food accumulate in the fissures of the tonsils. These may loosen on their own or may need to be removed by a doctor.

If you have chronic tonsillitis, the doctor may recommend tonsillectomy to surgically remove the tonsils.

Recurrent tonsillitis

As with the chronic type, a standard treatment for recurrent tonsillitis (swelling) is tonsillectomy. Recurrent tonsillar inflammation is usually defined as:

  • Having a sore throat with tonsil swelling at least 5 to 7 times in 1 year
  • Occurring at least 5 times in each of the previous 2 years
  • Occurring at least 3 times in each of the previous 3 years

A 2018 study suggests that chronic and recurrent tonsillitis may be caused by biofilms in the tonsillar folds. Biofilms are communities of microorganisms with increased antibiotic resistance that can cause recurrent infections.

In addition, genetic factors can also be a cause of recurrent tonsillitis. A 2019 study examined the tonsils of children with recurrent tonsillar swelling (inflammation). The study found that genetics can cause a weak immune response to group A streptococcal bacteria, which cause strep throat and tonsillitis.

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Is tonsillitis (swelling) contagious?

If the tonsils are inflamed or swollen, the affected patient may be contagious for 24 to 48 hours before they develop any symptoms. That is, they can spread the disease until they do not feel the disease. If the patient takes antibiotics for bacterial tonsillitis, it should stop being contagious after 24 hours.

If someone with the infection coughs or sneezes and someone else inhales the droplets, they can develop tonsillitis (tonsillitis). It can also develop if someone else touches a contaminated object that the patient has touched, such as a doorknob, and then touches their nose or mouth.

Being in contact with many people increases the risk of exposure to tonsillitis. This is why school-age children get sick. If there are symptoms, it is best to stay at home to prevent the spread of tonsillitis.

It usually takes 2 to 4 days for symptoms to develop after contact with someone with swollen tonsils.

What causes tonsillitis (swelling)?

The tonsils are the first line of defense against disease. They produce white blood cells that help the body fight infection. Tonsils fight bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the mouth and nose. However, in some cases the tonsils may be vulnerable to infection by these invaders. Tonsillitis can be caused by a virus, such as the common cold, or a bacterial infection, such as streptococcal sore throat.

Causes of viral tonsillitis

Viruses are the most common cause of tonsillitis. The viruses that cause the common cold are often the source of tonsillitis, but other viruses can also cause it. These viruses include:

  • Rinovirus
  • Epstein Barr Virus
  • Hepatit A
  • HIV

Because the Epstein-Barr virus can cause both mononucleosis and tonsillitis, sometimes people with mono develop tonsillar swelling (tonsillitis) as a secondary infection. If you have viral tonsillitis, symptoms may include coughing or nasal congestion. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, but the patient can treat standard symptoms by staying hydrated, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and resting to help their body heal.

Causes of bacterial tonsillitis

About 15 to 30 percent of cases of tonsillitis or swelling (tonsillitis) are caused by bacteria. It is mostly a streptococcal bacterium, which causes a sore throat, but other bacteria can also cause tonsillitis. Bacterial tonsil problems are more common in children between the ages of 5 and 15. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial tonsillitis, although they are not necessary.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis (swelling)?

Possible symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • Throat ache
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • a scratchy sound
  • bad breath
  • Fire
  • Shake
  • Earache
  • abdominal pains
  • Headache
  • Jaw and neck tenderness
  • Tonsils that look red and swollen
  • Tonsils with white or yellow spots

In very young children, increased irritability, loss of appetite or excessive drooling may also be noticed in case of tonsillitis or swelling (tonsillitis).

When should you see a doctor?

A person should see a doctor if they experience the following symptoms:

  • High fever
  • muscle weakness
  • stiff neck
  • persistent sore throat

In rare cases, inflammation of the tonsils triggers severe swelling of the throat, causing difficulty in breathing. If this happens, medical attention should be sought immediately.

How is tonsillitis (swelling) diagnosed?

Inflammation and swelling of the tonsils can often be relieved at home without the need to see a doctor. Most people find that their condition improves within a week without antibiotics, even if they have a bacterial infection. If symptoms do not improve, the doctor may want to check the affected person’s throat for another cause.

The doctor will ask about and examine the patient’s symptoms. Maybe they’ll also look inside your mouth with a bright light. They may also use a tongue depressor (flat wooden stick) to gently press the patient’s tongue down to get a better view of the tonsils.

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He or she may also examine the area around the neck to see if there are swollen lymph nodes. The doctor will usually diagnose tonsillitis from the symptoms, how the throat and tonsils look. Usually they will not need to do other tests.

Symptoms of tonsillitis can be similar to glandular fever. Glandular fever most commonly affects teenagers and young adults. Glandular fever can cause a very bad sore throat, extreme tiredness, slightly elevated fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. If the doctor thinks that the patient may have glandular fever, they may recommend a blood test.

How is tonsillitis (swelling) treated?

The first line of treatment for tonsillitis or swelling (tonsillitis) is self-care at home. However, in some cases, medical treatments such as the following may be required.

antibiotics

If the tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Penicillin, taken by mouth for 10 days, is the most common antibiotic treatment prescribed for tonsillitis caused by group A streptococci. If the patient is allergic to penicillin, the doctor will prescribe an alternative antibiotic.

Antibiotics should be taken exactly as prescribed, even if symptoms are completely gone. Not taking all medications as directed may cause the infection to worsen or spread to other parts of the body. Failure to complete antibiotic therapy as instructed may increase the risk of rheumatic fever and severe kidney inflammation.

If a patient forgets to take a dose, they should consult their doctor or pharmacist about what to do.

Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how.

Operation

Surgery to remove the tonsils ( tonsillectomy ) may be used to treat recurrent tonsillitis that has not responded to antibiotic therapy. Common tonsillitis (tonsillitis) is usually described as:

  • At least seven attacks in the previous year
  • At least five attacks per year in the last two years
  • At least three attacks per year in the last three years

Tonsil surgery can also be done if the swelling of the tonsils causes complications that are difficult to manage, such as:

  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing
  • Inflammation that does not improve with antibiotic therapy

Tonsil surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure unless the affected person is very small, has a complicated medical condition, or complications arise during the surgery. A full recovery usually takes 7 to 14 days.

What is good for tonsillitis (swelling)?

Here are the things that are good for tonsil swelling:

1- Drinking plenty of warm liquids

Drinking warm liquids, including soups, broths, and teas, can help soothe a sore throat and tonsillitis. Herbal teas containing ingredients such as honey, pectin or glycerin can help with your discomfort because these ingredients form a protective film on the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat that can soothe irritation. However, there is only weak evidence that herbal teas help treat symptoms of tonsillitis (swelling).

2- Eating cold foods

Eating cold, soft foods such as frozen yogurt or ice cream can numb the throat and provide temporary pain relief. Also the following things might work similarly:

  • sucking ice cream
  • Drinking iced or frozen juice
  • Sipping ice-cold water

Other options include strong candies or gummies with mint or menthol. These ingredients provide a similar cooling and numbing sensation in the throat.

3- Avoiding hard foods

One of the things that is good for tonsil swelling is to avoid hard foods. For people with tonsillitis (swelling), eating hard or sharp foods can be uncomfortable and even painful. Hard foods can scratch the throat, causing further irritation and inflammation.

Foods to avoid include:

  • chips
  • Crackers
  • dry grain
  • Toast
  • raw carrots
  • raw apple

Affected individuals should turn to soups, broths, soft foods, and frozen juices that are easier to swallow or eat until symptoms subside, as these are more effective than dry foods.

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4- Gargling with salt water

Gargling with salt water can temporarily relieve the pain and soreness in the back of the throat. People can make a brine mixture by adding a quarter teaspoon of salt to 230ml of warm water and stirring the solution until the salt dissolves. They can then gargle with salt water for a few seconds before spitting out. It is safe to repeat the procedure as often as necessary as long as the affected person avoids swallowing the mixture.

WARNING: Gargling is not suitable for young children as there is a risk of inhaling the liquid and choking.

5- Increasing the humidity of the indoor environment

One of the answers to the question of what is good for tonsil swelling is to increase the rate of inhaled moisture. Dry air can further irritate a sore throat. People with swelling or inflammation of the tonsils may benefit from using a cool moisturizer. These devices help relieve throat discomfort by returning moisture to the air. People should clean humidifiers daily to prevent the growth of harmful mold and bacteria. People who don’t have access to a humidifier may instead try inhaling the steam from a hot shower or bath.

6- Avoiding forcing the voice

One of the things that is good for tonsil swelling is to avoid forcing the voice. Swelling of the tonsils can cause hoarseness of the voice. It may be tempting to counteract this by raising the voice, but doing so will cause further irritation of the throat. If speaking is painful, the person should try to rest their voice as much as possible. It’s also important to see a doctor, as difficulty speaking can sometimes indicate a complication.

7- Get lots of rest

People with swelling (inflammation) of the tonsils should rest as much as possible. Rest will allow the body to fight the viral or bacterial infection. Continuing to go to work or school not only makes one more likely to be sick longer, but it can also put others at risk of contracting an infection.

8- Over-the-counter pain relievers

Pain relievers taken after consulting a pharmacist or doctor can help relieve sore throat, fever, and other painful symptoms of tonsillitis. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Paracetamol
  • İbuprofen
  • Aspirin

WARNING: Aspirin is not suitable for children as it can cause a life-threatening illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Taking analgesics at regular intervals in consultation with a doctor or pharmacist can help reduce pain throughout the day.

9- Medicated throat lozenges

Some throat lozenges contain anesthetic medicines to numb and soothe the throat. Many also contain anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and inflammation. One of the benefits of throat lozenges is that they give pain relief directly to the area of ​​inflammation. Some lozenges also contain antiseptic ingredients. These help target the bacteria responsible for bacterial tonsil swelling. However, lozenges are not suitable for young children as they pose a choking risk. Some also contain benzocaine, which can cause adverse effects in this population.

10- Throat sprays and mouthwashes

Throat sprays and mouthwashes are another way to deliver anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic medications directly into the throat. Affected people can use a throat spray containing the following active ingredients, in consultation with their doctor or pharmacist :

  • Benzidamin
  • Phenol
  • opened
  • Benzocaine (for older children and adults only)
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride
  • Chlorhexidine gluconate

As a result

Tonsil swelling is a common condition that can affect both children and adults. Therefore, many people wonder what is good for tonsil swelling. Most tonsillitis go away without medical treatment within a few days. Meanwhile, a variety of home remedies and over-the-counter pain relief treatments can help relieve troubling symptoms. Tonsil swelling can sometimes cause more serious complications. Those affected should see a doctor if they experience new symptoms, if their symptoms persist or worsen.

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