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Tonsillitis (cont.)

Tonsillitis Diagnosis

The doctor will conduct a physical examination. Sore throats caused by viruses may look exactly like those caused by bacteria.

The doctor looks for these conditions:

  • Signs of infection (redness, discharge, swollen lymph glands)
  • Abscess (a shift in one tonsil toward the center and a shift of the uvula away from the infected side)
  • Airway compromise (muffled speech, drooling, and inability to swallow)
  • The doctor may order diagnostic tests that will look for strep infection. In some cases, the doctor may start antibiotic treatment without tests.
  • If the doctor performs a rapid diagnostic test with a swab specimen from the back of the throat, positive results for strep throat may be available during the office visit. However, it typically takes 24-48 hours to confirm rapid test results of a bacterial infection.
  • Rarely, other conditions such as diphtheria, a foreign body, or cancer may start with a sore throat. If an abscess or a more worrisome condition (cancer, diphtheria) appears to be present, the doctor may consult an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/14/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Tonsillitis and Peritonsillar Abscess »

In the first century AD, Celsus described tonsillectomy performed with sharp tools and followed by rinses with vinegar and other medicinals.

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