Sore Throat & Tonsils: Too Difficult to Swallow

A sore throat is usually the first sign of respiratory problems like a cold or flu. However, a cold usually gets better in a couple of days while the flu can take up to 5 days to cure. The symptoms of sore throat are usually accompanied by a dripping nose and congestion. There are some times when a sore throat is an indication of other ailments such as tonsillitis. It is important to know the difference between the two so that you can ensure that your child gets timely treatment with minimum discomfort.

Differences Between a Cold and Tonsillitis

If your child complains of a sore throat, the first thing to do is to understand the cause of the sore throat besides wondering how to cure a sore throat. As mentioned earlier, a sore throat from a cold will subside in a couple of days but if the sore throat is caused by a viral infection, besides a running nose, your child will also exhibit symptoms of cough and red and watery eyes.

A cold-related sore throat can be treated by giving your child plenty of fluids and rest to promote healing. Painkillers such as ibuprofen can be used if throat lozenges do not reduce the irritation. Throat sprays and lozenges are a great way to get immediate relief from the itchiness. Antibiotics are only useful for bacterial infection and since colds are caused by virus, they are of no help at all.

The symptoms of tonsillitis are similar to those of a cold and in addition to a sore throat, your child will also complain of throat pain while swallowing food, bad breath, fever, loss of appetite and headaches. Tonsils are located in the tissue that surrounds the entrance to the digestive tract at the back of the throat. There are actually four groups of lymphoid tissue that are known as tonsils. Individually, these are categorized as the adenoid, tubular, palatine and lingual tonsils. Tonsils reach their largest size when your child approaches puberty after which they actually reduce in size for the rest of the duration of the child’s life.

When the tonsils are infected, the resulting condition is known as tonsillitis. The most common cause is streptococcus (strep) bacteria. However, it is also caused by viruses like adenoviruses, enteroviruses and the Epstein-Barr virus. A swab sample taken from the back of the throat with a cotton swab will show the cause in a simple lab test. If it is a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed by the doctor.

If the inflammation of the tonsils causes obstruction of the throat passage, they might need to be removed surgically. While the surgery takes less than an hour and your child can return home on the same day as the surgery, the recovery period after the operation can take up to a week. During this time your child might complain of ear, neck and jaw pain and low-grade fever. In which case, much of the steps followed in how to cure sore throat are applicable and will bring relief to your child.

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