Peritonsillar Abscess – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatments

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Do you have a sore throat? Does your voice sound cracked? Do you have difficulty in swallowing? You could be suffering with Peritonsillar abscess. Peritonsillar abscess is a commonly occurring bacterial infection that begins with complication of the tonsillitis or an untreated strep throat infection. It later forms collection of pus and becomes an abscess.

An abscess is a collection of pus that forms near the infected skin and soft tissues, in this case the tonsils. Read on to know more about peritonsillar abscess, its causes and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

What Is Peritonsillar Abscess?

Peritonsillar abscess usually occurs at the beginning or end of the winter season during which weather related illnesses like strep throat or tonsillitis is widespread. It is mostly common in children, adolescents and young adults.

Peritonsillar abscess causes pain, swelling and in severe cases blockage of the throat. If the throat is blocked actions like speaking and swallowing become difficult.

[ Read: Enlarged Adenoids In Children ]

What Causes Peritonsillar Abscess?

Like we mentioned in the beginning, Peritonsillar abscess is mostly a bacterial infection leading to formation of pus, there are other factors that could lead to this throat illness.

There are other factors at play as well:

  • Dental infections like periodontitis and gingivitis may be the causes.
  • Smoking.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
  • Chronic tonsillitis.
  • Infectious mononucleosis.

[ Read: Tonsillitis In Children ]

What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Peritonsillar Abscess?

Usually symptoms are similar to that of strep throat infection or tonsillitis. However, here you can see the collection of pus at the end of the throat which may look like swollen whitish blister or a boil.

Few other symptoms are:

  • Infection of both the tonsils.
  • Sore throat, usually painful on one side.
  • Fever accompanied by chills.
  • Difficulty in swallowing or opening the mouth fully.
  • Swelling in the face.
  • Headaches and a muffled voice.
  • Bad breath.
  • Enlarged lymph glands.
  • Ear pain on the same side as the peritonsillar abscess.

In rare cases, there is a possibility of peritonsillar abscess complications like:

  • Infection spreading to the throat, mouth, neck and chest.
  • Blocked airways.
  • Infected lungs.

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How To Diagnose Peritonsillar Abscess?

The doctor initially conducts an examination of your mouth and throat. Any signs of swelling on one side of the throat and redness on the roof of the mouth will be checked if present.

The doctor may also ask to get an MRI or a CT scan to take a closer look of the abscess. Also, your doctor will draw fluid from the abscess to confirm the infection.

How To Treat Peritonsillar Abscess?

  • It is always recommended to treat a sore throat immediately to avoid further complications or infections. If checked earlier, the infection can be treated with antibiotics.
  • If an abscess has formed then it will be drained using a needle or by making a small cut to suction out the fluid. The doctor provides adequate pain medication.
  • Because of these procedures, you may find it difficult to eat or drink. To prevent dehydration some people are given intravenous fluids.
  • During an event of a relapse, the doctor may recommend surgical removal of the tonsils. This surgery is called tonsillectomy.

[ Read: Blood Infections In Children ]

Post-Operative Care

  • Continued use of antibiotics is advised.
  • Some patients may be hospitalized until they are able to eat orally or the pain is under control.
  • Routine follow-up is a must. Here, the doctor examines your drainage area to rule out any further accumulation of pus.
  • Most patients, who are treated with antibiotics and adequate drainage of their abscess cavity, recover within a few days. Only in some rare cases tonsillectomy maybe performed.

If you have any queries that we have not addressed here and would like to include in this post, do tell us in the comment box below.

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