How Long Does Tonsillitis Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 – 4 Days

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils that are present at the back of our throat. Tonsils are a pair of two oval-shaped pads that are lumps of tissue located on each side at the rear of the throat (pharynx). There is one tonsil on each side. They are composed of soft tissues that are similar to lymph nodes. The tonsils are a part of the lymphatic system that is responsible for fighting infections.

Tonsils can vary hugely in size and are susceptible to inflammation as they swell up in response to infection. Most cases of tonsillitis are caused due to infection from a common virus. However, sometimes even bacterial infections are responsible for tonsillitis.

The tonsils are the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses that try to enter the immune system of an individual through their mouth. This purpose of tonsils makes them vulnerable to various risks and hence they become prone to infections and inflammation that might lead to tonsillitis.

How Long Does Tonsillitis Last?

ConditionsDuration
Acute tonsillitis3 – 4 days
Chronic tonsillitis7 – 10 days or more
Recurrent tonsillitisSeveral times in a year for 3 – 4 days

As the tonsils serve and function as a defense mechanism, they prevent the body from contracting any diseases caused by any bacteria or virus. However, in the process of protecting the entire body, sometimes the tonsils themselves can get an infection. When the tonsils get infected, such a condition is called tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis is commonly identified as a childhood illness but is found occurring even in teenagers and parents. Usually, the symptoms of tonsillitis go away in about 3 to 4 days. Some of the main symptoms of tonsilitis among people are sore throat, facing swallowing issues, inflammation of the throat, very high body temperature, headaches, tiredness, coughing, fatigue, nasal congestion, etc.

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Some severe symptoms of tonsillitis include painful and swollen glands around the neck, white pus-filled spots on the tonsils, bad breath, hoarse voice, loss of appetite, etc. When the condition under tonsillitis is severe, it becomes difficult for people to breathe through their mouths.

Why Does Tonsillitis Last This Long?

Tonsillitis, the infection of the tonsils, is mainly of three types. First is acute tonsillitis wherein the symptoms last for 3 – 4 days but can even extend and last up to 2 weeks in certain cases. The next type is called recurrent tonsillitis where a person experiences tonsillitis infection several times in a year. The last type is chronic tonsillitis which means long-term tonsil infection.

The major and most common bacteria responsible for tonsillitis is Streptococcus or strep bacteria that is responsible for causing strep throat. Other viruses responsible for the discomfort to tonsils are adenovirus, influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, enterovirus, etc.

It is often found that children tend to get infected due to tonsillitis a lot more than adults. People between the age of 5 to 15 are the most susceptible to contracting tonsillitis due to either bacterial or viral infections. It is extremely common to see a very young child having tonsillitis as a result of viral infections. However, this does not in any way mean that elders are safe from this disease. Adults too are at higher risk of getting tonsillitis.

If one is having a tonsillitis infection, that person must immediately see a doctor if the condition is not getting cured in about 3 to 4 days. If tonsillitis is not treated it could lead to more serious problems like rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, sinusitis, kidney infection like glomerulonephritis, etc. A medical practitioner might prescribe certain antibiotics that could help one feel better within 2 – 3 days after having the medication.

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Conclusion

Inflammation of the tonsils, also known by the name tonsillitis, can be caused by both viral and bacterial infections. Though common in children and teenagers, nothing can prevent adults from getting tonsillitis. It commonly lasts for 3 to 4 days if it is of the acute type. However, if gets chronic tonsillitis, it could last for a longer duration than average. It can happen once in a while in any individual or it might come back again and again after short intervals of time.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc2460393/
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/shareview/10.1080/21645515.2019.1581537
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