What Are the Causes of Tonsillitis?
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
- The most common symptom for this condition is a sore, swollen and red throat. Yellow or white pus can be spotted on the tonsils. Patients tend to have a difficulty breathing or swallowing, and they sometimes have fevers. The glands in their neck are swollen under both sides of the jaw. One may also experience fatigue, abdominal pain, earache and a loss of appetite. Other symptoms of tonsillitis include bad breath, dry mouth and headache.
Viral Cause of Tonsillitis
- Typically, tonsillitis has a viral cause such as the common cold, the flu, measles, adenovirus, cytomegalovirus, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex, Coxsackie virus or mononucleosis. If the symptoms resemble those of a cold (i.e. coughing, sneezing, stuffy or runny nose), then it is most likely a viral infection. Viral tonsillitis usually subsides in a matter of days. However, tonsillitis brought on by mononucleosis can take weeks or months to run its course. Viral tonsillitis is treated with a wait-and-see approach, with the focus on lessening symptoms such as fever and pain by means of over-the-counter medication or home remedies such as gargling with salty water.
- This type of tonsillitis usually appears in winter and is caused by streptococci. To determine whether a patient's tonsillitis is caused by this bacteria, a family physician will perform a throat culture along with a short strep exam. Bacterial tonsillitis is treated with antibiotics and usually lasts up to a few weeks; sometimes, this condition can last for a period of months.
Other Causes of Tonsillitis
- While rare, parasites or fungi can bring about tonsillitis. This usually happens to individuals with compromised or weak immune systems.
Transmission of Tonsillitis
- Tonsillitis is spread through close contact, with its pathogens transferred via sneezes, coughs, nasal fluids or breathing. A person can become infected if the germs enter in contact with the mucous membranes, eyes, nose or mouth. Once exposed to the pathogens, individuals generally experience symptoms in two to five days. Patients with bacterial tonsillitis are contagious from the outset and, if they fail to seek medical attention, can remain contagious for as long as 14 days.