Do I Just Have a Sore Throat or is it Tonsillitis?

Woman with a sore throat on the couch concerned that it might be tonsillitis.

Everything from a cold to dry air to allergies or even tonsillitis can cause the incredibly common symptom of a sore throat. The question is: How can you tell when it’s time to call us for an appointment or if you just need to turn on your humidifier?

There can be significant repercussions if you have tonsillitis and you disregard it. It’s a smart plan to get an exam if you believe that your sore throat is being caused by something more than dry air or allergies. Tonsillitis itself can have numerous causes.

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

A sore throat doesn’t always mean you have tonsillitis, but it’s a pretty consistent symptom. For most individuals, the confusion starts because a sore throat can be caused by any number of problems, from the common cold to allergies to strep throat. When the tonsils become infected and inflamed this causes tonsillitis.

Here are a few of the symptoms of tonsillitis:

  • Yellow or white patches on the tonsils
  • Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck
  • Tonsils that are red and swollen (your doctor will be able to see this)
  • A stiff neck or pain in the neck
  • Trouble or pain swallowing and bad breath
  • A sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache or stomach ache

Because tonsillitis is not uncommon in children, it’s important to closely monitor how these symptoms might manifest in children. Children often cannot conceptualize or voice their discomfort. Instead, tonsillitis will commonly manifest as refusal to eat or fussiness. Because of the pain of swallowing, children may drool more.

What Causes Tonsillitis?

Sore throat or tonsillitis? Your answer to this question might sound like this: for right now, just a sore throat. The reason for this is that tonsillitis can be the consequence of a number of things that cause a sore throat.

The story begins with the general function of your tonsils. When viruses and bacteria get into your body through your mouth, your tonsils are your body’s first line of defense. This can sometimes cause the tonsils to get infected.

Streptococcus pyogenes, the bacteria responsible for strep throat, is a common bacterial cause of tonsillitis. Tonsillitis can also be caused by several viruses. Practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent tonsillitis. Consistent hand-washing, for example, will help limit the spread of germs and, consequently, could limit the development of tonsillitis.

When Should You Consulting Your Doctor For Tonsillitis?

In many situations, your tonsillitis might begin as a little different than a sore throat, meaning it may be challenging to know when to give us a call and when you might be better off waiting. White spots in the throat or swollen tonsils are usually undetectable by somebody looking into a bathroom mirror.

But you should definitely make an appointment if you have several or lingering symptoms.

A basic rule of thumb would be to come see us if have any of the following:

  • Your sore throat is comes with by a fever.
  • More than 2 days pass and your sore throat doesn’t get any better.
  • It’s painful to swallow.

And, obviously, you should seek immediate emergency care if you are having trouble breathing.

If you believe that your child has tonsillitis and your child has been extremely weak or fussy, you should also think about making an appointment with your doctor.

Tonsillitis Treatment

Taking out the tonsils was once a common procedure. However, this surgery is normally considered a last resort and will only be performed in cases of repeated infections or when other treatments have not worked.

The correct treatment path needs to be established because tonsillitis can be caused by both viruses and bacteria. Antibiotics are also commonly prescribed.

If the tonsillitis is caused by a virus, however, fluids, bed rest, and symptomatic therapies will most likely be the prescribed plan of action (antibiotics are not a useful solution for viral infections). Removing the tonsils might be considered if none of these therapies are effective.

Tonsillitis will need a medical diagnosis in order to begin effective treatment. So if your sore throat hasn’t cleared up, it’s important to identify the exact cause. Give us a call today to get to the bottom of your sore throat.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Questions? Talk To Us.