What is Tonsillitis?
In simple words, tonsillitis is defined as the inflammation of one or both the tonsils. A large section of people is still not aware of tonsils.
Tonsils are made of lymph tissue that appears oval in shape. What we commonly refer to as tonsils, are the palatine tonsils. There are two types of tonsils-lingual and adenoids which are located at the back of the throat.
Can tonsillitis spread?
Yes. Tonsillitis is contagious in nature. Contagious infections are those that develop due to microorganisms entering the body and can spread by direct person-to-person contact. The infections that occur in the tonsils are mainly due to viruses or bacteria. Therefore, when a non-infected person spends a lot of time with an infected person, there is a high possibility that it can spread.
Note- Irrespective of what infection-causing pathogen enters the body and infects the tonsils, it is contagious.
How can tonsillitis spread?
The infection in the tonsils spreads mainly in two ways-
- By air. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, it releases droplets into the air which a non-infected person can breathe in.
- By direct/indirect contact. When a non-infected person comes in close proximity with an infected person or touches contaminated objects such as a doorknob or car keys, the germs can transfer into that person.
Tonsillitis spreads faster in children and teenagers as they live in very close proximity with each other including schools and daycare centers.
How long is tonsillitis contagious?
Depending on the cause of the infection, the length of the contagion varies. Let’s understand this with the help of an example. Tonsillitis caused by a virus lasts from a week to 10 days whereas bacterial infection in the tonsils can last for over a month. The infection remains contagious until the symptoms last.
Do tonsillitis spread during incubation?
Before answering this question, let’s understand incubation. The time period since a person comes in contact with the pathogen until he or she experiences any symptoms is defined as the incubation period. The incubation period for tonsillitis ranges between 2 and 4 days. Moreover, the chances of the infection spreading are high in the last one or two days of incubation.
How to stop tonsillitis from spreading?
It is important to take preventive measures to stop the disease from spreading. Or else the person who lives near the infected person, can also get infected and suffer from the problem. Here are a few simple-yet-effective tips that can prevent tonsillitis from spreading-
- Wash hands regularly to prevent frequently-touched objects such as doorknobs, switches, etc, from getting contaminated. Make sure that the hands are washed properly before eating or cooking as well as after using the bathroom.
- Avoid coughing in the open air or into your hands. If you feel like coughing or sneezing, do so into the crook of the elbow.
- Stay indoors till the symptoms don’t go away.
- Keep the infected person’s drinking glasses, utensils, water bottles or food separate. This will prevent the germs from spreading to a non-infected person.
- Using a new toothbrush after the tonsillitis patient has recovered.
- Keep the shared living spaces clean and disinfected regularly.
What to do if I have tonsillitis?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms such as the following, visit the doctor without any further delay to get rid of tonsils fast. Some of the symptoms are-
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
- Tenderness of the lymph nodes in the neck
- Scratchiness, muffled or throaty nose
- Redness or swelling of the tonsils
- Soreness of the throat
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Pain while swallowing
- Bad breath
By the time you reach the doctor, try these simple do-it-yourself tips at home–
- Take rest
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Manage the pain with throat lozenges and over the counter medicines
Many people develop tonsillitis due to weak immune system. They also suffer from repeated episodes of tonsillitis. In such cases, a tonsillectomy is an effective option.