Swollen tonsils can accompany a number of different infections of the upper respiratory tract. Some people have larger tonsils than others, and it is possible to have large tonsils without associated symptoms or problems. Tonsillitis refers to inflammation of the tonsils, which typically occurs due to infection. Infection is most commonly due to viruses or bacteria. Tonsillitis is a common illness, especially in children. It is possible to have multiple episodes of tonsillitis throughout life. Tonsillitis is often accompanied by other symptoms, including sore throat, cough, sneezing, enlarged lymph nodes, fever, chills, hoarseness, headache, muscle aches, or fatigue. When the tonsils are infected, they may also appear to be coated with yellowish-white pus.
Other causes of swollen tonsils
- Bacterial Infections
- Fungal Infections
- Hypertrophy (Benign Enlargement) of the Tonsils
- Peritonsillar Abscess
- Viral Infections
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Causes of Swollen Tonsils
Adenovirus 14 (Killer Cold Virus)
Adenovirus infection, particularly Ad14, or the "killer cold virus" has been on the increase in the past two years. Symptoms range from those experienced with colds, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, pinkeye, fever, bladder infection, and neurological conditions. Diagnosis and treatment options need to be discussed with your physician.
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
Cough: 19 Tips on How to Stop a Cough
Coughing is a reflex that helps a person clear their airways of irritants. There are many causes of an excessive or severe cough including irritants like cigarette and secondhand smoke, pollution, air fresheners, medications like beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, the common cold, GERD, lung cancer, and heart disease.Natural and home remedies to help cure and soothe a cough include stay hydrated, gargle saltwater, use cough drops or lozenges, use herbs and supplements like ginger, mint, licorice, and slippery elm, and don't smoke. Over-the-counter products (OTC)to cure and soothe a cough include cough suppressants and expectorants, and anti-reflux drugs. Prescription drugs that help cure a cough include narcotic medications, antibiotics, inhaled steroids, and anti-reflux drugs like proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, for example, omeprazole (Prilosec), rabeprazole (Aciphex), and pantoprazole (Protonix).
Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. The flu may be prevented with an annual influenza vaccination.
Infectious mononucleosis is a virus infection in which there is an increase of white blood cells that are mononuclear (with a single nucleus) "Mono" and "kissing disease" are popular terms for this very common illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Is Tonsillitis Contagious?
Tonsillitis is a common infection, especially in kids. Tonsillitis is caused by viruses and bacteria like the flu and herpes simplex virus, and Streptococcus bacteria. These viruses and bacterium are spread person to person. Symptoms of tonsillitis are a yellow or white coating on the tonsils, throat pain, pain when swallowing, and hoarseness.
Measles (rubeola) is a highly contagious disease that's caused by a virus. Symptoms include a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Treatment focuses on symptom relief. The disease can be prevented with the measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox (varicella) vaccine (MMRV).
Tonsil stones are small clusters of calcifications that form when food, dead cells, mucus, and bacteria get stuck in the nooks and crannies of the tonsils. Tonsil stones are hard, appear as white or yellowish formations on the tonsils, and usually smell bad due to bacteria. If symptoms occur, they may include persistent bad breath, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, and cough.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI)
An upper respiratory infection is a contagious infection of the structures of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx, and larynx. Common causes of an upper respiratory infection include bacteria and viruses such as rhinoviruses, group A streptococci, influenza, respiratory syncytial, whooping cough, diphtheria, and Epstein-Barr. Examples of symptoms of upper respiratory infection include sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever, and nasal congestion. Treatment of upper respiratory infections are based upon the cause. Generally, viral infections are treated symptomatically with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and home remedies.
Examples of Medications for Swollen Tonsils
- Cefdinir vs. Cefpodoxime
- Cefdinir vs. Cefuroxime
- Nitrofurantoin vs. Amoxicillin
- Nitrofurantoin vs. Cephalexin
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. Augmentin
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. azithromycin
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. cefpodoxime
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. cefuroxime
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. Keflex (cephalexin)
- Suprax (cefixime) vs. Rocephin (ceftriaxone)
Infectious Disease Resources
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