What's Chronic Tonsillitis in Adults?
- What Is Tonsillitis?
- Causes of Tonsillitis
- 1. Bacterial Tonsillitis
- 2. Viral Tonsillitis
- Types of Tonsillitis
- 1. Acute Tonsillitis
- 2. Recurrent Tonsillitis
- 3. Chronic Tonsillitis
- Tonsillitis Symptoms
- Tonsillitis vs. Strep Throat
- Is Tonsillitis Contagious?
- Chronic Tonsillitis Treatment
- At-Home Remedies for Tonsillitis
- What Do YOU Think?
While you may commonly think of tonsillitis as a kid’s disease, that isn’t always the case 135. In fact, there are several different variations of this condition, some of which can affect adults too. But in order to understand chronic adult tonsillitis, let’s start with the basics 135.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
What Is Tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis occurs when your tonsils become infected by a virus or bacteria 135. (Tonsils are the fleshy tissue on the back of the throat.) While it’s common in children, adults can suffer from it as well 135.
Causes of Tonsillitis
1. Bacterial Tonsillitis
2. Viral Tonsillitis
Types of Tonsillitis
1. Acute Tonsillitis
Acute tonsillitis occurs most commonly in kids, though typically not in children under the age of 2 135. Symptoms may come on suddenly or may present more gradually with a sore throat and a fever. Typically, acute tonsillitis can last anywhere from three to 14 days 135.
2. Recurrent Tonsillitis
Individuals who fall ill with multiple bouts of tonsillitis within the same year may be experiencing recurrent tonsillitis 135. This type, which is also more common in children, may initially respond to antibiotic treatment only to reoccur at least once in the same year 135.
3. Chronic Tonsillitis
Chronic tonsillitis in adults occurs when persistent infection of the tonsils causes symptoms to last longer than two weeks 135. In this condition, which is more frequently seen in adolescents and adults, repeated infections can lead to the development of pockets (called crypts) in the tonsils that can store foul-smelling, bacteria-filled stones akin to kidney stones 135.
Though specific symptoms and their severity may vary according to the overall health of the person infected, there are a few key indicators that you may have tonsillitis 135. Only a doctor can examine you to make a final diagnosis.
- Red or swollen tonsils
- White spots on the tonsils (usually an indicator of a bacterial infection)
- Swollen, firm lymph nodes (the tissue on both sides of the neck just below the jaw)
- Sore throat
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Mild or severe laryngitis (in severe cases 16)
If laryngitis does develop, you may notice a scratchy voice (like you have a “frog in your throat”) or a complete loss of voice in more severe cases 16. Minimizing the amount you use your voice can help reduce your risk of experiencing laryngitis or provide relief from tonsillitis 135.
- Body aches
- Ear pain
- Throbbing of the ears
- Low-grade fever, up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit
Tonsillitis vs. Strep Throat
Tonsillitis, on the other hand, occurs when the tonsil glands become infected 135. Because the streptococcus bacteria can cause high amounts of inflammation in the back of the throat, tonsillitis is a common side effect of, strep throat and the two conditions are frequently seen together 135.
Is Tonsillitis Contagious?
Whether it’s caused by a bacterial or viral infection, tonsillitis is contagious 135! Practicing good hygiene is the easiest way to keep the condition from spreading. If you or your child are around someone with tonsillitis, be sure to wash your hands frequently and to avoid sharing toys or utensils with them 135.
You may also want to replace the toothbrush of anyone who has contracted the condition. In addition, one of the best ways to avoid infecting others is to stay home from work or school until your doctor tells you that you’re no longer contagious.
Chronic Tonsillitis Treatment
At-Home Remedies for Tonsillitis
Sucking on over-the-counter throat lozenges and gargling with salt water can also provide relief 517. Finally, getting plenty of rest can help the body to repair itself and fight off the virus or bacteria that is causing tonsillitis 135.
Occasionally, persistent symptoms require the tonsils to be surgically removed 14. This usually occurs when there’s chronic or recurrent tonsillitis or when inflammation in the tonsils affects a person’s ability to breathe while they sleep 135.
This procedure is typically done in an outpatient setting under general anesthesia. Unless there are complications, you are usually able to return home the day of your surgery.
In addition, it’s important to avoid strenuous activities for 14 days after your surgery. Be sure to alert your doctor if you experience excessive bleeding, fever or difficulty breathing.
What Do YOU Think?
While you may commonly think of tonsillitis as a kid’s disease, that isn’t always the case35. Tonsillitis occurs when your tonsils become infected by a virus or bacteria35. Streptococcus pyogenes is the bacteria that causes bacterial tonsillitis35. Chronic tonsillitis in adults occurs when persistent infection of the tonsils causes symptoms to last longer than two weeks35. Because of this, halitosis or bad breath is a frequent symptom35. In addition, a chronically sore throat and enlarged or sore lymph nodes in the neck are usually present. Because tonsillitis can be caused by an infection or a virus, many patients experience flu-like symptoms, including35: Body achesHeadachesEar painThrobbing of the earsLow-grade fever, up to 102 degrees FahrenheitChills Read more: 10 Things to Know in Case of a Health Emergency Despite being commonly confused with each other, strep throat and tonsillitis are not the same thing35. You may also want to replace the toothbrush of anyone who has contracted the condition. Finally, getting plenty of rest can help the body to repair itself and fight off the virus or bacteria that is causing tonsillitis35. In addition, it’s important to avoid strenuous activities for 14 days after your surgery. What kind of symptoms did you experience?
- Mayo Clinic: Tonsillitis
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Tonsillitis
- Medline Plus: Tonsillitis
- EMedicineHealth: Tonsillitis: Symptoms, Contagious, Treatments, and Home Remedies
- Healthline: Tonsillitis
- National Health Services: Tonsillitis
- American Academy of Otolarygology-Head and Neck Surgery: Tonsillitis
- Verywell Health: Chronic and Recurrent Tonsillitis: What to Know
- Medicinenet: Tonsillitis and Adnoiditis Symptoms, Pictures, Causes, and Home Treatment
- Mayo Clinic: Tonsillitis: Symptoms and Causes
- National Health Services (UK): Tonsillitis
- Healthy Children.org: The Difference between a Sore Throat, Strep & Tonsillitis
- Mayo Clinic: Strep Throat
- Mayo Clinic: Tonsillectomy
- Cleveland Clinic: Tonsillectomy Overview: Recovery and Outlook
- Mayo Clinic: Laryngitis
- Healthline: 5 HomeRemedies for Tonsilitis