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Tonsillitis symptoms in adults – Can I go to work with tonsillitis?

Dr Ranj explains the signs and symptoms of tonsillitis

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While two-thirds of tonsillectomies in the UK are performed on children, teenagers and adults can get tonsillitis too. The cause of tonsillitis differs from person to person and it could be caused by a virus or a bacterial infection, so it’s hard to tell if you’re contagious or not. reveals the main symptoms of tonsillitis in adults and whether or not you should go to work if you have it.

Recurrent sore throat including tonsillitis has an incidence in general practice in the UK of 100 per 1,000 population.

Tonsillitis is a common childhood illness, but it can happen to anyone at any time.

Tonsillitis can feel like a really bad cold or flu, so it’s important to know the main symptoms to ensure you don’t have Covid.

Tonsillitis symptoms in adults

If you have tonsillitis, the tonsils at the back of your throat will be red and swollen.

The main symptoms in children and adults are:

  • a sore throat
  • problems swallowing
  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • coughing
  • a headache
  • feeling sick
  • earache
  • feeling tired

In more severe cases, you may have swollen or painful glands in your neck, white pus-filled spots on your tonsils and bad breath.

Young children may be unable to describe how they feel, so it’s important to look out for signs of drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing, refusal to eat, or unusual fussiness.

Tonsillitis usually goes away by itself after three to four days, with plenty of rest, paracetamol or ibuprofen, cool drinks and warm salty water.

However, you may also need some antiseptic solutions, throat sprays and lozenges, or you could be prescribed some antibiotics.

Can I go to work with tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is not contagious, but most of the infections that cause it (such as colds and flus) are contagious.

That’s why it’s important to stay home from work or keep your child with tonsillitis at home until you or they are better.

The BUPA site explains: “You may also get tonsillitis if streptococcal bacteria affect your throat.

“You catch the infections that cause tonsillitis in the same way you catch a cold- tiny droplets that pass into the air when you talk, cough or sneeze.

“You can also catch infections if you touch a surface that’s contaminated with the virus or bacteria.”

If you get tonsillitis in the summer or autumn, it’s most likely caused by a virus such as the common cold or flu virus and will clear up on its own.

Tonsillitis is most often caused by common viruses which enter your body through your mouth.

If you get tonsillitis in the winter or early spring, it’s probably caused by a bacterial infection such as streptococcus pyogenes (strep throat).

Around 15 to 30 percent of tonsillitis cases result from bacteria, and if this is the case you may need to take antibiotics.

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