A sore throat can be caused by many things, but many are quick to assume it is tonsillitis and rush to the doctor. Understanding the signs and symptoms of this bacterial infection can ensure you seek help when needed in a timely manner.
Sore Throat Causes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Streptococcus A is the bacteria that causes strep throat. The influenza virus leads to the flu while rhinovirus causes a cold. Both of which can also lead to a sore throat. Bacteria and viruses include redness, inflammation and pain in the back of the throat on their list of symptoms, the same symptoms as tonsillitis.
According to Dr. Kara Meister, a head and neck surgeon at Stanford Children’s Health, “There’s a misconception among parents that tonsillitis and strep throat are synonymous terms. This isn’t true.” She goes on to explain, “Strep throat is a common cause of tonsillitis, but it’s not the only cause.”
Tonsillitis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Red tonsils
Treatment for Tonsillitis
Viral infections just need to run their course. Taking ibuprofen and gargling with salt water can help reduce the inflammation, while drinking tea with honey and sucking on lozenges can help ease the swelling.
If your child develops a high fever or they can’t eat or swallow liquids because their throat hurts so much, you need to bring them to the doctor for a throat culture.
If the throat culture confirms a bacterial infection, your ear, nose and throat doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics. If tonsillitis caused by bacteria is left untreated, it can lead to a number of serious health problems and may require surgery.
- Rheumatic fever
- Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (PSGN)
- Pneumococcal disease
How to Avoid Tonsillitis
Many of the recommendations for avoiding tonsillitis are already being practiced in the age of COVID-19. Don’t share cups, water bottles or straws. Wash your hands often to reduce your risk of getting sick.
You can keep your immune system healthy by eating right, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep.
To learn more about preventing a sore throat or to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor, contact the experts at Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.