THE MAJORITY of people will catch tonsillitis at some point in their life – usually during childhood.
It is usually caused by a viral infection or, less commonly, a bacterial infection.
The tonsils are at the rear of the throat, right at the back of the mouth. There is one on either side.
And they act as a barrier against infection.
When tonsils become infected they isolate the infection and stop it from spreading further. A nasty side effect of this is tonsillitis.
Typically, tonsillitis leaves people feeling a bit off – and easily be mistaken for a bad case of flu.
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Most people associate the condition with having red inflamed tonsils and a sore throat.
How tonsillitis affects the ears
But there is another key symptom which can be found in the ears.
Ear ringing is a common sign of tonsillitis, according to the NHS.
This happens when the infection from the tonsils spread to other parts, especially those near the tonsils such as the middle ear.
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This often leads to an ear infection and subsequently, ear ringing and pain.
The 10 other tonsillitis symptoms
The main symptoms of tonsillitis are:
- Red, swollen tonsils
- White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils
- Sore throat
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
- A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
- Neck pain or stiff neck
If you have tonsillitis caused by a viral infection, your symptoms may be milder.
If it is caused by a bacterial infection then the symptoms will be more severe, and you may have bad breath.
Is tonsillitis contagious?
Tonsillitis is not contagious, but the bacterial and viral infections that cause tonsillitis are.
Examples include strep bacteria, adenoviruses and the Epstein-Barr virus
Kids are more likely to get these bugs due to how they mix at school, but typically parents and teachers are more at risk, too.
To stop these infections spreading, if you think you or your child have the virus, it is important to stay home, use tissues when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands regularly.
What to do if you have tonsillitis?
There is no specific treatment and most cases get better within a week without treatment.
But there are things you can do to speed up recovery.
Make sure you have plenty to eat and drink.
Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can relieve a sore throat.
Antibiotics can be prescribed if the illness is caused by a bacterial infection.
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In rare occasions, removal of the tonsils is necessary, if tonsillitis is persistent.
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