Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is an infectious inflammation of the tonsils and will often, but not necessarily, cause a sore throat and fever.

Types
There are 3 main types of tonsillitis: acute, subacute and chronic. Acute tonsillitis can either be bacterial or viral(75%) in origin. Subacute tonsillitis (which can last between 3 weeks and 3 months) is caused by the bacterium Actinomyces. Chronic tonsillitis, which can last for long periods if not treated, is almost always bacterial.
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Symptoms
Symptoms of tonsillitis include a severe sore throat (which may be experienced as referred pain to the ears), painful/difficult swallowing, headache, fever and chills, and loss of voice. Tonsillitis is characterized by signs of red, swollen tonsils which may have a purulent exudative coating of white patches (i.e. pus). In addition there may be enlarged and tender neck cervical lymph nodes.


Causes

Bacterial tonsillitis may be caused by Group A streptococcal bacteria, resulting in strep throat. Viral tonsillitis may be caused by numerous viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus (the cause of infectious mononucleosis) or the Adenovirus.

Sometimes, tonsillitis is caused by a superinfection of spirochaeta and treponema, in this case called Vincent's angina or Plaut-Vincent angina.

Although tonsillitis is associated with infection, it is currently unknown if the swelling and other symtoms are caused by the infectious agents themselves, or by the host immune response to these agents. Tonsillitis may be a result of aberrant immune responses to the normal bacterial flora of the nasopharynx.


Treatment
Treatments of tonsillitis consist of pain management medications and lozenges. If the tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, then antibiotics are prescribed with Penicillin being most commonly used. Erythromycin is used for patients allergic to penicillin.

In many cases of tonsillitis, the pain caused by the inflamed tonsils warrants the prescription of topical anesthetics for temporary relief. Viscous lidocaine solutions are often prescribed for this purpose.

Ibuprofen or other analgesic can help to decrease the edema and inflammation which will ease the pain and allow the patient to swallow liquids sooner.

When tonsillitis is caused by a virus, the length of illness depends on which virus is involved. Usually, a complete recovery is made within one week, however some rare infections may last for up to two weeks.

Chronic cases may indicate tonsillectomy (surgical removal of tonsils) as a choice for treatment

Additionally, gargling with a solution of warm water and salt may reduce pain and swelling

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