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Tonsillitis Symptoms & Causes


What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is a swelling of the pharyngeal tonsils, or the lumps at the back of the throat, caused by a viral or bacterial infection. There are several types of tonsillitis, including:

  • Acute tonsillitis
  • Recurrent tonsillitis
  • Chronic tonsillitis
  • Peritonsillar abscess tonsillitis

What causes tonsillitis?

Most cases of acute tonsillitis are caused by viral throat infections, while about a quarter of tonsillitis cases are caused by bacterial throat infections. Some of the viruses that can lead to tonsillitis include:

  • Herpes simplex
  • Streptococcus pyogenes (strep)
  • Epstein-Barr
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Measles

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis symptoms vary depending on the variation of the condition. Signs of tonsillitis may include any of the following:

  • Acute tonsillitis – Patients exhibit fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, bad breath, pain in the throat, and tenderness when swallowing. Tonsils may swell to the point of causing snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Recurrent tonsillitis – A person will experience multiple episodes of acute tonsillitis in one year.
  • Chronic tonsillitis – Individuals display chronic sore throat, halitosis, and tender cervical nodes.
  • Peritonsillar abscess – Patients have a severe sore throat, fever, bad breath, difficulty opening the mouth, and voice changes.

How is tonsillitis diagnosed?

Patients who exhibit any of the above symptoms should consult a doctor as soon as possible. Conditions that go untreated can lead to more serious health conditions.

A doctor will likely perform a general ear, nose and throat examination as well as evaluate a patient’s history and symptoms. Physical examinations may include looking into the mouth with a mirror tool to check the tonsils for signs of tonsillitis. Your doctor may also feel your neck for swollen glands.

Your physician may recommend that you visit an ear, nose and throat specialist, such as New York ENT in order to correctly diagnose and treat your condition.

How is tonsillitis treated?

Tonsillitis may be treated with antibiotics if the underlying condition is a throat infection. In some cases, the condition may be severe enough to warrant a tonsillectomy, or the removal of tonsils. This is usually necessary when the condition is causing serious problems, such as severe snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.

If you are suffering from tonsillitis, the first step towards feeling better is to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor. Board certified physicians with New York ENT have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of neck and throat conditions. Fill out the form on this page or call our office at (212) 873-6168 to schedule an appointment today.

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