What are the symptoms of swollen tonsillitis?

PYHY3P medical illustration of the symptoms of tonsillitis

A sore throat is a common ailment that is being experienced by practically everyone at some part of their lives, and some more frequent than others. A sore throat can be due to many things, tonsillitis, pharyngitis and abscess, among others. Our discussion will be focused on tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis is a condition where the tonsils of a person become inflamed and this may be due to viral or bacterial infection. Tonsils are a group of organs situated in the vicinity of the throat. There are palatine tonsils, lingual tonsils, and adenoids (nasopharyngeal tonsils), to name a few. The palatine tonsils of which is casually referred to as,  “tonsils” are a pair of oval shaped organs located at the back and sides of the throat. They play an important role as a first-line of defense from getting harmful bacteria and viruses, collectively known as pathogens, into our body.

What are the signs and symptoms of tonsillitis?

When the tonsils are inflamed, several changes take place to the organ that can be observed by your physician. Right off the bat, the obvious change would be the gross enlargement of the tonsils. It could be so extensive that the ends of both tonsils may have reached each other in the midline. Then, the surface of the tonsils would be red in colour, and on more careful inspection, will sometimes reveal oozing pus from the surface of the tonsils. The neck will also show some swellings particularly under and along the jawline, where the lymph nodes clearing the infection are situated. These are the signs of tonsillitis.

The symptoms are what the patient experiences and it differs from one person to another. Some people may experience milder and lesser symptoms, while some others experience a more severe set of symptoms. These are the symptoms that can be experienced by patients of tonsillitis:

  • Pain in the throat
  • Pain during swallowing
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Bad-smelling breath
  • High-grade fever
  • Chills and shivering episodes
  • Earaches
  • Jaw and neck pain

Generally, there are three types of tonsillitis; acute, chronic and recurrent. Acute tonsillitis develops its course of disease fairly rapidly and lasts less than 10 days.

According to the cause, bacterial tonsillitis requires antibiotics to clear the infection whereas viral tonsillitis will resolve on its own without the need for antibiotics. Sufficient hydration, adequate caloric intake and pain control are essential in treating the disease.

Chronic tonsillitis is longer lasting and doesn’t subside, but persists with minimal symptoms such as throat pain, bad breath and tender lymph node swellings in the neck. Recurrent tonsillitis however, is multiple episodes of the disease occurring throughout the year with periods of non-inflamed tonsils in between the episodes. These two groups of tonsillitis usually warrant for a tonsillectomy, the surgical removal of tonsils.

Tonsillitis is a disease that is commonly but not exclusively occurring in childhood. Frequently they span within the age group of preschool until midteens. This is owing to the fact that they normally socialise more with many people at this age, be it in school, kindergarten or playground. The pathogen can be easily transmitted from one person to another by means of droplets, that is, by coughing or sneezing in close proximity with other people. Next, transmission can occur through touch. The pathogens that are coughed out can be found on the hands and items of the person, and when he or she touches another item that is picked  by another person, the pathogen is then transferred to the other person and eventually gains access to the latter’s mouth and throat.

Tonsillitis is a common disease but it shouldn’t be brushed off lightly owing to its possible complications. If you are having a sore throat that lasts more than 3 days, or having frequent sore throats, it is advisable for you to consult your doctor and get your tonsils checked and initiate early treatment if necessary.