Tonsillitis is a pretty common illness and not a particularly pleasant one at that. Don't worry, we'll be taking a deep dive into what tonsillitis is, what to look out for, and how to treat it so you know what to do if you or your child falls ill.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils, what are the glands at both sides of the back of your throat (and not the little teadrop thing you see in cartoons). It is generally a mild infection that lasts about a week or so.

The tonsils are part of the immune system and help protect the body against infection. If frequent bouts of tonsillitis are a problem, removal of the tonsils via an operation (called a tonsillectomy) is an option. This operation is a safe procedure performed under general anaesthesia and can be discussed with your doctor, who will explain everything you need to know about it.

What causes it?

The most common cause of tonsillitis is viral infections, though it can occasionally be contracted by bacteria (usually a streptococcus bacterium). Tonsillitis often follows a cold and it is not possible to be immunised against it, so repeated bouts of tonsillitis are possible. It's important to note that tonsillitis does not usually spread between people.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • White or yellow spots of pus on the tonsils

  • Sore throat

  • Swollen lymph glands under each side of the jaw

  • Pain when swallowing

  • Fever

  • Bad breath.

It's important to note that not every sore throat is caused by tonsillitis. Contact Sonder's 24/7 support team if you need help with any issue related to this.

How to treat it

Since tonsillitis is commonly caused by viral infections, antibiotics won't be effective. As such, most of the treatment involves trying to relieve the symptoms as much as possible. Ensure that the person with tonsillitis gets plenty of rest and fluids, and take paracetamol to reduce any discomfort, pain, fever, or headache. Gargles, lozenges, or sprays may also help sooth a sore throat.

If the tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be needed. Antibiotics will be required if the infection is severe as it could lead to complications, such as scarlet fever, middle ear infections, and rheumatic fever, if left untreated.

If you or your child aren't sure what to do, go see a doctor or GP. Sonder's 24/7 support team can also provide you with assistance and advice on what to do if you need it.

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If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: Better Health Channel, Emergency Care Institute, HealthDirect, and The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

Image credit: Pavel Danilyuk at Pexels

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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