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Tonsillitis (cont.)

Tonsillitis Medical and Surgical Treatment

Because most sore throats are caused by viruses, antibiotics are not routinely needed. However, penicillin is the most commonly prescribed class of antibiotics.

  • The medication may be given as a single-dose injection (a shot) or may be provided as a prescription for oral antibiotics (pills taken by mouth).
  • People who are allergic to penicillin may be treated with erythromycin. Treatment with oral antibiotics may be provided for 10-14 days.
  • It is important to complete all the pills prescribed, even if symptoms go away and you feel better. Completion of the full course of antibiotics prevents the serious complication of rheumatic fever that may result in a form of heart disease.

Throat pain and fever may be improved with medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

It is also important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

Gargling with warm salt water (8 ounces of warm water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt) will ease sore throat pain. Gargle several times a day.

Occasionally, abscesses may develop that require needle aspiration or incision and drainage to help the infection heal and to reduce throat blockage or obstruction. If patients experience six or more infections in one year, some clinicians recommend surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy). An ENT specialist is frequently consulted for treatment of the patients.

Tonsillitis Follow-up

  • Make sure the patient follows up on all the tests the doctor performs and take all the medications the doctor prescribes.
  • Patients should finish the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor, even if the person is feeling fine and symptoms go away.
  • Children and adults are not contagious 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment for strep throat caused by bacteria. The child or adult can return to school (day care) or work after this period of time while the person is taking antibiotics.
  • If symptoms remain or get worse, the patient should contact their doctor.
  • If social contacts develop symptoms tonsillitis, they may need to be evaluated.
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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