Diagnosis | Acute tonsillitis


What do we recognise in our tonsils when tonsillitis is suspected? If we ourselves look in the mirror, stick out our tongue far out and say a long “A”, we can recognise a reddened throat and possibly thickened tonsils behind the palatal arch in the case of tonsillitis. Even the tongue might show a whitish coating, especially in the rear area, which seems rather unusual to us.

If the tonsils are whitish in addition to redness and swelling, or if there are small white spots on the tonsils, you must always consult your family doctor. Now a treatment with an antibiotic is necessary! The family doctor is familiar with the treatment of tonsillitis.

It is therefore not necessary to consult an ENT specialist at first. The general practitioner will first want to know how long the symptoms have existed. He will then take a close look at the throat and the tonsils, mirror the ears and palpate their lymph nodes in the neck area.

In order to find a distinction from a very similar disease (Pfeiffer glandular fever, Epstein-Barr virus infection, mononucleosis), which however requires a different therapy, he will also palpate the spleen and liver. If the tonsils suggest the suspicion of a rather rare bacterial colonization, the doctor will take a smear from the pharynx and tonsils. A cotton swab is held against your throat for a short moment.

The swab is then sent in a tube to a laboratory. A blood test is not usually performed. What can you do yourself to relieve the symptoms?

The antibiotic itself will not help with the pain and fever. You can take additional antipyretic and pain-relieving medication (e.g. paracetamol), which your doctor may prescribe for you. Old measures such as calf compresses can be used to combat high fever, and these have been very successful with children.

The neck should always be kept warm. Scarves at home and scarves outside should be worn for at least five days. Swallowing problems can be alleviated by pureeing the food and generally avoiding acidic foods and juices.

Cold drinks and ice have a beneficial effect and alleviate swallowing difficulties. In general, a lot of liquid (at least two litres) should be taken in the form of tea. Disinfecting teas (e.g. sage tea, more information also under our topic sage) have an additional effect against the bacteria in our oral cavity.

Camomile tea (more information also under our topic camomile) on the other hand has an anti-inflammatory effect. The pharmacy has a whole range of freely available lozenges and throat medicines against swallowing problems. An additional application keeps the throat moist, disinfects and relieves sore throats.

Cigarette smoke hinders healing and also increases swallowing difficulties! As a smoker, you should therefore definitely refrain from smoking for the duration of your illness. How is acute tonsillitis treated?

If the typical findings of tonsillitis are present, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. It is absolutely necessary to take the medication according to the doctor’s instructions! The antibiotics prescribed today are very well tolerated drugs (penicillin, amoxycillin), which bring about a quick improvement.

Also because of the consequential damage to should not be done without antibiotics in the case of a purulent tonsillitis. If you are known to be allergic to penicillin, it is important to let the doctor know. He will prescribe an equally effective substitute (macrolide, clarithromycin).

  • Heart
  • Joints and
  • Kidney (rheumatic fever)

If the cause of acute tonsillitis is an infection with bacteria that either originate from the patient’s own mouth and throat or were transmitted by droplet infection, the disease is treated with antibiotics. In the case of an infection with viruses, which in addition to the bacteria also cause Acute Tonsillitis, antibiotic treatment is not possible. The standard medication for the treatment of acute tonsillitis is penicillin V. This drug works by preventing the bacteria from building up the cell wall as they multiply, so that they cannot multiply any further.

Penicillin must be taken for 10 days, even if the symptoms have already subsided or subsided. If you stop taking the tablet early, resistant strains of bacteria may develop. This means that these strains develop mechanisms that lead to the antibiotic being ineffective.

A noticeable improvement occurs approximately 24 – 48 hours after the first intake of penicillin. If no effect of the medication occurs after this time, it is possible that the medication will have no effect. This means that the therapy will fail.

The percentage of therapy failures is constantly increasing and currently lies at about 20-30% of those treated. Nevertheless, penicillin is an effective antibiotic for acute tonsillitis and is used as standard medication. Treatment with antibiotics is used for both acute tonsillitis and chronic tonsillitis.

The aim of this treatment with antibiotics is to combat tonsillitis itself and to prevent the two main side effects, post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (a kidney damage with bloody urine) and rheumatic fever. There are many different approaches to treating acute tonsillitis (angina) homeopathically. We have dedicated a completely independent page to this topic.

The use of home remedies for acute tonsillitis is a sensible supplement to antibiotic therapy in order to increase one’s own well-being and reduce pain. A lot should be drunk during the illness. Sage tea is particularly suitable here, as it has a disinfectant effect and also promotes blood circulation in the throat area through the heat, which in turn accelerates the healing process.

Warm neck wraps have the same effect, which can be done either with warm, moist cloths or a warm onion wrap. Warm neck wraps should be applied for about half an hour to allow them to take effect. Cold compresses may also be used, as they reduce swelling and make it easier to swallow.

However, the reduced blood circulation also makes for poorer healing, so that you have to weigh up between warm and cold wraps depending on the symptoms. The same applies to sucking ice cubes. Their decongestant effect should only be used if swallowing is severely restricted. Sage sweets are more suitable because they stimulate the flow of saliva, so that the mucous membranes are moistened and the bacteria can be attacked by the immune components contained in the saliva.