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Tonsillitis is an acute swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the tonsils. Tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection or a viral infection. The most common bacterial infection that causes tonsillitis is strep throat, caused by a group A streptococcal infection of the tonsils and throat.
The tonsils are two glands located in the back of the throat. The tonsils belong to the lymphatic system and the immune system and help to protect the body from upper respiratory infections. The role of the tonsils is especially important in young children. Tonsillitis can occur to anyone with tonsils but is most common in children.
When a bacterial infection or a viral infection causes tonsillitis, the throat and tonsils become red, swollen, and white patches of pus may appear on the tonsils. Other symptoms of tonsillitis include pain with swallowing, difficulty swallowing, headache, fever, and swollen glands (swollen lymph nodes). Complications of tonsillitis are possible in some cases. Complications can include cervical adenitis and tonsil abscess. For additional symptoms and more information about complications, refer to symptoms of tonsillitis.
The bacterial infections and viral infections that cause tonsillitis are contagious and spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. This shoots droplets contaminated with bacteria or a virus into the air where they can be breathed in by others. Bacterial infections and viral infections that cause tonsillitis can also spread by touching an infected person or a contaminated surface, such as a contaminated drinking glass or computer keyboard.
Making a diagnosis of tonsillitis involves taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam. This includes examining the throat for the typical signs of tonsillitis. These include swelling, redness and irritation of the throat and tonsils and the presence of pockets of pus on the tonsils.
At this time a throat culture and sensitivity is also performed. A throat culture and sensitivity involves swabbing the tonsils and tonsils with a cotton swab and growing and examining the sample under a microscope for a possible bacterial infection, such as a group A streptococcal infection. This test can take up to two days. A similar but quicker test that can be done in less than half an hour is also often performed. This is called a rapid strep test, which can check for a group A streptococcal infection.
An examination also includes feeling the lymph glands for signs of swelling.
Blood tests, may be performed If a person with tonsillitis is very ill, has a high fever, signs of an infection in other areas of the body, or has had symptoms for more than two weeks. Blood tests may include a complete blood count, which tests for an abnormally high number of white blood cells. This indicates an infectious process occurring in the body.
Because tonsillitis can mimic mononucleosis, a rapid test called a monospot may also be done to check for mononucleosis. A monospot test might be performed in conjunction with a blood test that checks for the presence of specific antibodies that the body produces to fight mononucleosis.
It is possible that a diagnosis of tonsillitis can be delayed or overlooked because the symptoms may resemble symptoms of other diseases, such as mononucleosis. For information about misdiagnosis and diseases and conditions that can mimic tonsillitis, refer to misdiagnosis oftonsillitis.
Treatment of tonsillitis includes measures to help relieve symptoms and keep the body as strong as possible to minimize the risk of developing complications. This includes rest, medications to ease body aches and fever, and drinking plenty of fluids. People who are in good health can generally recover from the tonsillitis at home with supportive care, such as rest, fluids, and pain relievers. Antibiotics are only prescribed if the tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, such as in strep throat. Surgery may be necessary in some cases. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of tonsillitis....more »
Misdiagnosing tonsillitis is possible because the symptoms of tonsillitis can mimic other diseases, such as influenza, cold, mononucleosis, pharyngitis, pharyngitis, lymphoma, and upper respiratory infection. ...more misdiagnosis »
The following medical conditions are some of the possible
causes of Tonsillitis.
There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor
about your symptoms.
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Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Tonsillitis, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.
Treatment of tonsillitis begins with preventing the spread of the virus or bacterium that can cause it. Prevention measures include avoiding contact with people who have tonsillitis. Preventive measures also include covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough and washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. It is also ...Tonsillitis Treatments
Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Tonsillitis may include:
Review further information on Tonsillitis Treatments.
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Tonsillitis may include:
The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible
causes of Tonsillitis as a symptom.
Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using,
including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.
Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Tonsillitis may include these symptoms:
Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:
Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Tonsillitis:
Read more about causes and Tonsillitis deaths.
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Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be...read more »
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Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible
causes of Tonsillitis as a symptom include:
Inflammation of the tonsils, especially the palatine tonsils. It is often caused by a bacterium. Tonsillitis may be acute, chronic, or recurrent.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Inflammation of the tonsils (especially the palatine tonsils)
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
The list below shows some of the causes of Tonsillitis mentioned in various sources:
This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Tonsillitis. Of the 17 causes of Tonsillitis that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:
The following list of conditions have 'Tonsillitis' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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The following list of medical conditions have Tonsillitis or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Tonsillitis based
on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:
Medical Conditions associated with Tonsillitis:
Tonsil symptoms (24 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Inflammatory symptoms (1736 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Neck symptoms (833 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Respiratory tract symptoms (5166 causes), Swallowing symptoms (664 causes), Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Eating symptoms (2462 causes), Food symptoms (1907 causes), Esophagus symptoms (3079 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)
Symptoms related to Tonsillitis:
Tonsil symptoms (24 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Sore throat (512 causes), Red throat (44 causes), Adenoid symptoms, Acute tonsillitis, Chronic tonsillitis, Streptococcus, Diptheria, Upper respiratory tract infections, Peritonsillar abscess (7 causes), Quinsy, Carcinoma of the tonsil
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