Symptoms of tonsillitis include a severe sore throat (which may be experienced as referred pain to the ears), painful/difficult swallowing, coughing, headache, myalgia (muscle aches), fever and chills. Tonsillitis is characterized by signs of red, swollen tonsils which may have a purulent exudative coating of white patches (i.e. pus). Swelling of the eyes, face, and neck may occur.
In some cases, symptoms of tonsilitis may be confused with symptoms for EBV infectious mononucleosis, known colloquially as mono(US) or Glandular Fever (elsewhere). Common symptoms of mono include fatigue, loss of appetite, an enlarged spleen, enlarged lymph nodes, and a severe sore throat, sometimes accompanied by exudative patches of pus.
It is also important to understand that symptoms will be experienced differently for each person. Cases that are caused by bacteria are often followed by skin rash and a flushed face. Tonsillitis that is caused by a virus will develop symptoms that are flu-like such as runny nose or aches and pains throughout the body. Even though the infection will not cure immediately, tonsillitis symptoms usually improve 2 or 3 days after treatment starts.
Acute tonsillitis is caused by both bacteria and viruses and will be accompanied by symptoms of ear pain when swallowing, bad breath, and drooling along with sore throat and fever. In this case, the surface of the tonsil may be bright red or have a grayish-white coating, while the lymph nodes in the neck may be swollen.
The most common form of acute tonsillitis is strep throat, which can be followed by symptoms of skin rash, pneumonia, and ear infection. This particular strand of tonsillitis can lead to damage to the heart valves and kidneys if not treated. Extreme tiredness and malaise are also experienced with this condition with the enlargement of the lymph nodes and adenoids.
Chronic tonsillitis is a persistent infection in the tonsils. Since this infection is repetitive, crypts or pockets can form in the tonsils where bacteria can store. Frequently, small, foul smelling stones are found within these crypts that are made of high quantities of sulfa. These stones cause a symptom of a full throat or a throat that has something caught in the back. A foul breath that is characterized by the smell of rotten eggs (because of the sulfa) is also a symptom of this condition.
Other symptoms that can be caused by tonsillitis that are not normally associated with it include snoring and disturbed sleep patterns. These conditions develop as the tonsils enlarge and begin to obstruct other areas of the throat. A person's voice is generally affected by this type of illness and changes in the tone of voice a person normally has. While a person may only become hoarse, it is possible for laryngitis to develop if the throat is used too much while the tonsils are swollen or inflamed. Other uncommon symptoms that can be experienced with tonsillitis include vomiting, constipation, a tongue that feels furry or fuzzy, difficulty opening the mouth, headaches and a feeling of dry or cotton mouth.
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