Signs and symptoms of a sore throat & tonsillitis

Missed school days and absence from work are worrisome. A severe sore throat is a condition which often requires you to stay at home. Discomfort in your throat, a muffled voice and fever are symptoms accompanied with a sore throat which decreases your work productivity. If an adult or  child complains of a sore throat, then it might be an early indication of another ailment or the start of a common cold. There is no need to visit an ENT practice at the first signs of a sore throat, but if the condition progresses with other symptoms, and your child has tonsillitis, then you should seek medical advice. If you are in Singapore, the ENT Clinic provides state of the art diagnosing facilities with well experienced medical doctors and staff which caters to all ENT conditions.

Tonsils: How do they work?

Tonsils are part of the lymphatic system. They are oval shaped masses of tissue located on either side of the throat. Tonsils function as a filter to stop unwanted germs and compounds from entering the air passage. Additionally, it also helps to keep body fluids in balance. This way tonsils help in the prevention of infections.

Tonsillitis is when tonsils are infected and swollen. This is mainly due to viruses and bacteria. If your tonsils are overwhelmed by the disease, then they become swollen and infected. The Streptococcus bacteria can cause a severe sore throat along with other symptoms like fever. 

Tonsillitis: The Common Symptoms

The most common sign is inflammation in the tonsil area. An examination will reveal that the tonsils are enlarged than their normal size. Symptoms which manifest include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Red tonsils
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Halitosis
  • Headache
  • Ear pain
  • Muffled voice
  • Throat discomfort
  • Blisters inside the throat
  • Increased pain when swelling
  • Pain in jaw and neck

This condition can affect both children and adults. Children may show additional symptoms like drooling, diarrhoea and vomiting. A top ENT throat specialist who has been recognized by Best in Singapore is among one of the doctors in the ENT Clinic that can  address this condition effectively.

Classification of Tonsillitis

There are three types of tonsillitis as listed below.

  • Acute Tonsillitis: Sudden onset of symptoms which remain for a few days. In some cases it can last up to 14 days
  • Recurrent Tonsillitis: Episodes of tonsillitis which appear frequently within a year
  • Chronic Tonsillitis: Tonsillitis which doesn’t seem to go away and is present throughout the year.

Tonsillitis is very common among school kids. Children between the ages of 5 to 15 years have a high chance of catching tonsillitis. This is primarily due to  frequent contact with playmates increasing the chance of disease since germs can spread rapidly between one another. However, tonsillitis is rare among toddlers.

Tonsillitis: How is it diagnosed?

If you have severe tonsillitis, it is prudent  to seek advice from an ENT doctor. Your throat specialist  will do a physical examination of your nose, ears and throat. There will be a visual inspection of the throat area to better assess the tonsils and also a temperature check.

If needed, the doctor will order additional tests like a throat swab and blood tests to identify the bacteria or virus responsible for the illness.

When should I visit an ENT doctor?

Not all cases of tonsillitis are harmful. Most will fade away in a few days with ample rest, fluids and salt water gargling. Having tonsillitis is an uncomfortable and painful experience, but most symptoms should settle within a week, with or without medical attention.

However, in addition to an uncomfortable throat pain, if you experience the below symptoms then you should seek an ENT opinion.

  • High fever
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sleep apnea
  • Pus around tonsils
  • Irritability in children
  • Muscle weakness

Bacterial tonsillitis for instance from Streptococcus can lead to complications which can set in a secondary infection. Kidney damage and rheumatic fever are common concerns. In addition, there could be middle ear infections. 

Tonsillitis: What are the treatment options?

Your ENT specialist will determine the treatment plan for tonsillitis based on the identified infection. Bacterial tonsillitis will need antibiotics which you need to take till the end of the course. However, viral tonsillitis will not be relieved through antibiotics. Some of the common remedies you might perform include:

  • Salt water gargling
  • Using a humidifier
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Staying well rested
  • Eating soft and cold foods
  • Over the counter pain relief medications like acetaminophen
  • Sucking a lozenge

Tonsillectomy: Is surgery really essential?

You ENT doctor will try medications as the first line of treatment. They will determine the underlying cause of your tonsillitis. If you suffer from allergy or sinusitis, then your specialist will treat these conditions first and observe if it will improve the frequency of tonsillitis. However, if medications don’t answer and you are a victim of recurrent and chronic tonsillitis with continuous difficulty in breathing and swallowing, then your ENT will have a conversation with you regarding surgery.

Tonsillectomy involves the removal of your tonsils. It is generally done as an outpatient procedure, but many parents also prefer to have their children monitored over-night.

Recommendations: Why visit an ENT practice?

To avoid complications and relieve the discomfort you go through with a sore throat, it is best to seek expert advice from an ear nose throat doctor. A qualified ENT will be able to easily establish the reason for your sore throat.

The ENT clinic in Singapore is led by a strong  ENT team comprising  Dr Jeeve Kanagalingam, Dr Annabelle Leong and Dr Christopher Hobbs  who are experienced, friendly and caring. An ENT consultation  is recommended if you suffer from recurrent and chronic tonsillitis. Your ENT specialist will plan a treatment regime which suits your lifestyle.

When it comes to health related matters, why consider an average doctor when you have a  choice of visiting a well regarded  practice.  While most ENT doctors can comfortably address a sore throat, going to an ear, nose and throat practice that has received multiple awards like the ENT Clinic assures that you will be taken care of very well.