What is tonsillitis and what types are there?

Tonsillitis is inflammation of one or both tonsils. There are two types of tonsillitis, and each has different symptoms, development and treatment:

  • Acute tonsillitis
  • Chronic tonsillitis

Acute tonsillitis

It is very common in children, even up to adolescence. It is a self-limited disease with a benign course.

The cause of this type of tonsillitis is originated by a wide variety of viruses and bacteria. In any case, the bacterial type is the least common: 2 out of 3 cases are caused by viruses. The most frequent microorganisms affecting human beings in tonsillitis are:

  • Streptococcus.
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
  • Influenza virus, or Influenza.
  • Herpes simplex virus.
  • Adenovirus.
  • Enterovirus.
  • Parainfluenza virus.

Chronic tonsillitis

It occurs when the tonsils suffer a frequent viral or bacterial infection, presenting symptoms for a period of more than six months. Tonsil tissues are susceptible to recurrent infections leading to related diseases. The cause is the development of a more severe infection and usually causes pharyngitis.

Acute tonsillitis usually causes bothersome symptoms that facilitate the identification of the pathology:

  • Severe sore throat
  • Earache in severe cases
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Painful cervical lymph nodes
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Appearance of plaques of exudate on the tissues of the tonsils.

Curiously in chronic tonsillitis these symptoms do not occur. People with chronic tonsillitis may have swollen tonsils and lymph nodes without severe pain or discomfort. They may present difficulty in swallowing or halitosis. The recurrence of acute tonsillitis and its symptoms is the most significant fact of the chronic state of the disease.

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For more information on tonsillitis contact an ENT specialist.