Tonsillitis: Symptoms and First Aid Management

The inflammation of the tonsils is called tonsillitis. It is characterized by the reddening and enlargement of the tonsils with a white to yellow coating. The distinctive feature of tonsillitis, aside from the inflamed tonsils, is the “rocks in the mouth” voice. The tonsils are actually lymph nodes that are found at the top of the throat, at the back of the mouth. It functions to assist the immune system by protecting the body from bacteria and other microorganisms that can enter the body. Basically, it protects the body from potential infections that can enter the body through the mouth.

Tonsillitis can be spread from one person to another by coming into direct contact with the mucus, throat or mouth of an infected person. Tonsillitis is commonly caused by viruses and bacteria. Viruses, such as, adenoviruses, influenza, parainfluenza, enterovirus, Epstein-Barr and Herpes simplex, account for most of the cases of tonsillitis. On the other hand, bacteria, such as streptococcus, account for only 10% to 15% of tonsillitis.

Risk Factors of Tonsillitis

Although tonsillitis can occur to anyone of any age, there are certain risk factors that increases a person’s likelihood to getting this infection. These include:

  • Close contact with a person who has tonsillitis
    • Pathogens can pass through the air when an infected person breathes, sneezes or coughs
  • Young age – individuals commonly afflicted with tonsillitis are from the preschool to mid-teenage years
  • Repeated exposure to microorganisms

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is easy to diagnose because aside from the inflamed tonsils, the following symptoms may also appear

  • Rocks in the mouth voice (hoarseness or loss of voice)
  • Odynophagia (painful swallowing in the mouth or the esophagus) that may last for more than two days
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • Painful blisters in the throat
  • Pus
  • Fever and chills
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Referred pain to the ear
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

First Aid Management for Tonsillitis

Treatment for tonsillitis will depend on the causative agent. To diagnose, a throat swab is performed to find out what germs are present in the throat. A strep test can also be used to determine diagnosis. The primary goal of administering first aid after symptoms of tonsillitis appear is to avoid worsening the symptoms and hence, promoting a speedy recovery. It is also done to avoid spreading the infection to other persons. The following first aid tips are recommended in cases of tonsillitis:

A person suffering from tonsillitis should take plenty of rest

A person suffering from tonsillitis should take plenty of rest

  • Antibiotics will only take effect against bacteria-caused tonsillitis. If it is caused by a viral infection, do not use antibiotics.
  • Take plenty of rest and avoid contact with other children.
  • Drinking warm fluids can help reduce the pain. One can also gargle salt with warm water.
  • Take lozenges that contain benzocaine to relieve pain
  • Over the counter pain relievers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may also relieve pain.
  • Eat smooth foods to not worsen the pain.

Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils leading to red and enlarged tonsils that are covered in white to yellow coating. It is primarily caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

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