Understanding Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is when the tonsils, the two tissue masses at the back of the throat, become inflamed. This condition can lead to a sore throat, trouble swallowing, and swollen glands around the neck. Tonsillitis is more than just a sore throat; it’s a sign that the immune system is fighting an infection. 

Types of Tonsillitis

There are three major types of tonsillitis: 

  1. Acute (quick to start), 
  2. Recurrent (happening many times a year), or 
  3. Chronic (long-lasting). 

Acute tonsillitis is typically caused by a viral or bacterial infection and can be accompanied by symptoms such as fever, sore throat, swollen glands, and difficulty swallowing. 

Chronic tonsillitis, on the other hand, may not always present with such severe symptoms but can lead to frequent sore throats, tonsil stones, and difficulty swallowing.

Identifying the type of tonsillitis is key to getting the right treatment. While tonsillitis can often be managed with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers, some cases require medical treatment from an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. 

Treatments for Tonsillitis

Acute tonsillitis caused by a bacterial infection can often be treated with antibiotics. If caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t help, but pain relievers and rest can be beneficial in easing symptoms. 

In some cases, a tonsillectomy, or surgical removal of the tonsils, may be recommended for recurrent or chronic tonsillitis. This procedure is typically done as an outpatient surgery and can provide long-term relief from symptoms.

“Tonsillitis is a condition that we often encounter at Granville Health System’s ENT practice. Whether you’re dealing with acute discomfort or chronic issues, seeking care from an ENT specialist can provide valuable insights and solutions. Remember, the expertise of a qualified specialist can make a significant difference in your comfort and overall well-being,” said Dr. Richard Alexander, MD, PhD, MBA – Granville Health System

Can Tonsillitis Go Away on its Own?

Mild cases of tonsillitis can be managed at home with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. After seven to ten days of self-care, the symptoms of tonsillitis should start to subside. 

However, if the symptoms don’t improve or if you frequently get tonsillitis, it’s a good idea to see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist. An ENT specialist is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat conditions of the throat, including tonsillitis.

When you visit an ENT specialist for tonsillitis, they will conduct a thorough examination to determine the cause and severity of your condition, which is commonly known as tonsil grading. They may also recommend imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, to get a closer look at the tonsils and surrounding structures.

“The incredible advancements in treating issues related to the tonsils have significantly improved patient outcomes. If a tonsillectomy is recommended, rest assured that modern techniques and experienced physicians can ensure a smooth process with minimal discomfort, giving you peace of mind,” said Dr. Richard Alexander, MD, PhD, MBA – Granville Health System.

Is Tonsillitis Contagious?

Tonsillitis is not inherently contagious, but the underlying infections that cause tonsillitis are. These infections are primarily caused by various viruses and bacteria. When an individual has tonsillitis, they carry bacteria and viruses in their saliva and respiratory secretions. Therefore, activities such as kissing, sharing drinks or utensils, or even touching objects like doorknobs or phones previously handled by an infected person can spread these germs. 

How Long is Tonsillitis Contagious?

The contagious period for tonsillitis depends on the specific type of virus or bacteria causing the infection. In the case of bacterial tonsillitis, caused primarily by group A Streptococcus, the risk of transmission can significantly reduce after 24 hours of effective antibiotic therapy. As a general rule, individuals are considered contagious from the onset of symptoms until they have been on appropriate treatment for 24 to 48 hours. 

For viral causes, the person can spread the virus for as long as symptoms are present, and sometimes even beyond, as viruses like influenza or the Epstein-Barr virus can linger in the body. To minimize the spread of the infectionit’s crucial for the infected individuals to maintain good hygiene practices, avoid close contact with others, and adhere to prescribed treatments during the contagious period.

What to Expect During Recovery

If your tonsillitis is treated with antibiotics due to a bacterial infection, you should start feeling better within a couple of days. However, it’s crucial to complete the full course of antibiotics to prevent the infection from returning or getting worse.

For viral tonsillitis, while there’s no specific medical cure, symptoms usually improve with rest and supportive care. Over-the-counter pain relievers, throat lozenges, and staying hydrated can alleviate symptoms until the virus runs its course.

About Granville Health System

For more than 100 years, Granville Health System (GHS) has been delivering quality health care and specialty services to the residents of Granville County, northern Wake County, and beyond. The GHS main campus is located at 1010 College Street, Oxford, North Carolina 27565 with its Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialty practice located at 102 Professional Park Drive, Oxford, North Carolina 27565. For more information about Granville Health System please visit www.GHShospital.org.

For the past 100 years, Granville Health System has been delivering quality health care close to home. To meet the growing needs of our community, Granville Health System has expanded its services throughout Granville County, offering convenient access to medical care where you work and live.