What is viral tonsillitis, symptoms, and treatment

Viral tonsillitis is an infection and inflammation in the throat caused by different viruses, the main ones being rhinovirus and influenza, which are also responsible for the flu and cold. The symptoms of this type of tonsillitis can be pain and swelling in the throat, pain to swallow, cough, runny nose and fever below 38ºC and can be associated with irritation in the eyes, thrush and herpes on the lips.

The treatment for viral tonsillitis should be guided by a general practitioner, pediatrician, or otorhinolaryngologist and consists mainly of the use of drugs to lower the fever and relieve pain, such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease the swelling of the tonsils, such as ibuprofen. Antibiotics are not recommended in case of viral tonsillitis, as they do not fight viruses.

Main symptoms

Viral tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsil caused by viruses and the main symptoms of this type of tonsillitis are:

  • Sore throat;
  • Pain to swallow;
  • Fever below 38ºC;
  • Cough;
  • Coryza;
  • Redness and swelling of the tonsils;
  • Body ache;

Unlike what happens in bacterial tonsillitis, in the case of tonsillitis caused by viruses, these symptoms may be accompanied by other signs such as conjunctivitis, pharyngitis, hoarseness, inflamed gums, thrush and vesicular lesions on the lips, when infection by the herpes virus. 

In addition, the presence of whitish plaques or pus points in the throat is not common in this type of tonsillitis, occurring mainly in bacterial tonsillitis, which is caused by bacteria of the type  Streptococcus pyogenes. Learn more  about bacterial tonsillitis, how to get it and treatment .

Possible causes and transmission

Viral tonsillitis is caused by different viruses, the most common being rhinovirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, herpes simplex, influenza, parainfluenza and  Coxsackie . These viruses are the same viruses that cause flu and cold and are transmitted through the droplets from sneezing or coughing from an infected person and through direct contact with contaminated objects, such as cutlery and a toothbrush.

This throat infection caused by viruses is very common in young children, with an average age of 5 years, as they are easily acquired in daycare centers and schools due to the direct contact that children have in these places.

In the case of adults, to prevent viral tonsillitis it is important to wash your hands frequently, avoid sharing personal items and not spending too much time in crowded places, especially if you have low immunity.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for viral tonsillitis should be guided by a general practitioner, pediatrician or otorhinolaryngologist who will perform a physical examination of the throat to differentiate whether the throat infection is caused by viruses or bacteria and may order blood tests, such as a blood count to check for signs of infection.

After examining the throat and verifying that it is a viral tonsillitis, the doctor will not prescribe antibiotics, as these are only used to kill bacteria in the case of bacterial tonsillitis and it is not recommended to use antibiotics without a prescription, because they make the bacteria resistant.

In the case of viral tonsillitis, the body itself releases defense cells to fight the virus and to relieve symptoms, such as pain and fever, the doctor may recommend analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. In addition, if the person has recurrent tonsillitis, surgery to remove the tonsils, called tonsillectomy, may be indicated. Find out  how the tonsil removal surgery is done and what to eat next .

Natural treatment for viral tonsillitis

Some measures to improve the symptoms of viral tonsillitis can be performed at home, such as:

  • Eat pasty and soft foods, such as soups and broths;
  • Drink large amounts of water, more than 2 liters per day;
  • Suck lozenges for irritated throat;
  • Keep at rest, avoiding intense physical activities;
  • Stay in an airy and humid environment.

Other homemade recipes can also be made to relieve viral tonsillitis such as gargling salt with lukewarm water 2 to 3 times a day and drinking lemon tea with ginger, for example. Here’s how to make sore throat teas .

Possible complications

Tonsillitis complications are very rare and usually occur in cases where it is caused by bacteria, however, in people with low immunity or very young children the viruses that are causing the tonsillitis to spread and cause other infections, such as in the ear, can occur , for example.

Leave a Comment