What are throat infections?
Throat infections can involve the whole back of your throat or just your tonsils. Tonsils are small lumps of tissue in the back of your throat. Tonsils help fight infection but sometimes get infected themselves. Infection of the tonsils is called tonsillitis.
Everyone gets throat infections, but tonsillitis happens mostly to children
Throat infections are usually caused by a virus but may be caused by bacteria
Symptoms include severe pain when you swallow and swollen, red tonsils
If not treated, tonsillitis from bacteria can turn into a tonsillar abscess Tonsillar Abscess Your tonsils are small lumps of tissue in the back of your throat. Tonsils help fight infection but sometimes get infected themselves. An abscess is a pocket of pus. A tonsillar abscess is a... read more (a collection of pus behind your tonsils), but this is rare
If you get tonsillitis very often, your doctor may do surgery to take out your tonsils (tonsillectomy)
What causes throat infections?
Throat infections are caused by:
What are the symptoms of throat infections?
Common symptoms are:
A sore throat that's worse when you swallow or talk
A red throat and tonsils
Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck
Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped tissues that help your body fight infection. Some people mistakenly call them "glands" and talk about having "swollen glands" when their throat is sore.
Sometimes, you may also get:
Pain in your ears
White patches on your tonsils
How can doctors tell if I have a throat infection?
Doctors can tell if your throat is infected by looking in your throat and seeing that it's red. Sometimes they'll swab your throat and do a strep test, to see if strep throat Streptococcal Infections Streptococcus (simply called strep) is a common group of bacteria. Different types of strep cause different diseases. Most often they cause sore throat (strep throat) or skin infections... read more is causing the infection.
Sometimes people think that big, red, swollen tonsils with white patches means it's strep throat. That's not true. All kinds of throat infections can look that way, not just strep.
How do doctors treat a throat infection?
Doctors treat throat infections with:
Over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
Sometimes, corticosteroids to help the symptoms go away faster
Antibiotics, but only if you have a bacterial infection, such as strep throat
If you get severe tonsillitis from strep throat very often, your doctor may recommend surgery to take out your tonsils (tonsillectomy).