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General Practice 2023

How to treat bacterial and viral tonsillitis

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How to treat bacterial and viral tonsillitis
How to treat bacterial and viral tonsillitis

Treatment for tonsillitis should always be guided by a general practitioner or otolaryngologist, as it varies depending on the type of tonsillitis, which can be bacterial or viral, and in this case it should be treated with different types of medication. However, in most cases, the doctor can recommend the use of medication to reduce fever and relieve sore throat, such as paracetamol, for example.

During treatment for tonsillitis, it is important to take measures that can help reduce symptoms and help the body recover, such as drinking plenty of water, eating softer and more iced foods.

It is important to follow the doctor's recommendations, because in some situations tonsillitis can even become chronic, requiring longer treatment or even having to have surgery to remove the tonsils. Check when surgery for tonsillitis is indicated.


1. Bacterial tonsillitis

This is the most common type of tonsillitis, which arises when the throat is infected by bacteria, usually of the Streptococcus and Pneumococcus type, causing symptoms such as severe pain when swallowing and pus in the tonsils. In these cases, it may be necessary to use antibiotics, the most common being penicillin, amoxicillin or cephalexin.

However, there are some people with a history of severe hypersensitivity reactions to these drugs, called beta-lactams, and therefore, in these people it is necessary to replace these drugs with azithromycin, clarithromycin or clindamycin.

These antibiotics must be used until the end of the pack or for the number of days indicated by the doctor, even if the symptoms have disappeared, to ensure that the bacteria are completely eliminated and do not become resistant to the drug.

In addition, the doctor may also prescribe analgesic or anti-inflammatory drugs, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, respectively, to relieve discomfort during treatment, such as pain when swallowing or headache. Here are also some home remedies that can help relieve tonsillitis symptoms.

2. Viral tonsillitis

In cases of viral tonsillitis, there is no medicine capable of eliminating the virus, as in cases of bacterial infection, so it is up to the body itself to eliminate the virus. To facilitate this work, you should rest at home, drink at least 2 liters of water a day and take supplements with vitamin C, echinacea and zinc, which strengthen the immune system.

As with bacterial tonsillitis, the doctor may also indicate the use of analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to reduce headache and sore throat, facilitating recovery.

3. Chronic tonsillitis

Treatment for chronic tonsillitis is also done with the use of antibiotic drugs, as well as analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs, and you should always return to the doctor whenever there is a recurrence.

When chronic tonsillitis develops, surgery to remove the tonsils may be recommended, which is usually done under general anesthesia, but the person can go home the same day. Recovery from this surgery can take up to 2 weeks and pain can usually be experienced during this time, because of this it is recommended to eat softer foods that are easier to swallow.

Watch the following video and learn what to eat during the recovery period from surgery:

4. Tonsillitis in pregnancy

Treatment for tonsillitis in pregnant women is delicate and should always be evaluated by the doctor, who must verify its benefits and risks. There is no antibiotic that does not have a potential risk for the fetus, however, those that are safer in pregnancy are penicillin and derivatives, such as amoxicillin and cephalexin, or in case of allergy, erythromycin.

During the treatment for tonsillitis in pregnant women, the woman should rest during the entire treatment and drink plenty of cold fluids, in addition to taking medication for fever, such as paracetamol, as it is the most recommended for pregnant women.

5. Home treatment for tonsillitis

In any case of tonsillitis, during treatment it is recommended:

  • Rest while you have a fever;
  • Drink about 2 liters of water a day;
  • Eat warm or cold soft foods;
  • Drink liquids without gas, so you don't irritate your throat anymore.

In addition, you can drink juices rich in vitamin C that help to strengthen the immune system, such as orange, pineapple or kiwi juice, and it is also recommended to drink echinacea tea throughout the day, as it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, helping to relieve tonsillitis symptoms. Check out other benefits of echinacea and learn how to use it.

Possible complications

It is important to consult a general practitioner or otorhinolaryngologist if you present symptoms of tonsillitis and if the diagnosis is confirmed, medical recommendations should be followed, because if not treated properly, tonsillitis can cause complications such as rheumatic fever, which happens mainly in children and adolescents, between 5 and 15 years old, and the symptoms of this condition appear 2 to 3 weeks after the onset of tonsillitis. See what are the symptoms of rheumatic fever.

In addition, the release of substances during tonsillitis can cause scarlet fever, which is a disease that is characterized by symptoms such as red spots on the body, rough skin, presence of swollen neck, vomiting and fever, so if these symptoms appear, it is necessary to seek medical attention again as soon as possible.

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