What are the most common causes of tonsil pain?

Most tonsil pain is caused by irritation due to allergies or infection. Tonsil infections are often caused by group A strep bacteria, as well as other bacteria and viruses. Sometimes tonsil pain can also be caused by a secondary infection like the common cold or the flu. This is usually due to drainage, as is the case with allergies.

Allergies can cause sore tonsils due to congestion in the nasal passages causing irritation. Other times, the allergens themselves, such as pollen, can stick to the tonsils, throat, and nasal membranes, causing inflammation and pain. Treatment options include medications designed for allergies and sometimes injections for people with severe seasonal or ongoing allergies.

Most commonly, bacterial infections are the cause of tonsil pain. Bacteria can be breathed in through the mouth, or bacteria that occur naturally in the nasal passages or elsewhere in the body can overgrow the tonsils, causing inflammation and discomfort. Other symptoms of a tonsil infection may include fever, severe sore throat, pus collection in the tonsils, redness, chills, and swelling. Bacterial infections can often be treated with antibiotics.

Viral infections can also infect the tonsils and cause pain, but they often go away on their own. Medicines can be used to relieve symptoms, but there are no known medicines that are capable of killing a virus. Many people try to use antibiotics, but they are not effective for viral infections.

Most of the time, tonsil pain will eventually go away on its own without intervention. In the meantime, patients can drink cold fluids, eat frozen treats, or take over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms. Only when the discomfort becomes very severe or prolonged is the attention of a doctor usually necessary. A doctor may also be necessary for those who also have other symptoms.

Aside from allergies, most causes of sore tonsils are contagious, meaning they can be passed from one person to another. People with severe throat discomfort that lasts more than a day or two should see a doctor to find the underlying cause. They should also avoid crowds of people to avoid spreading the virus or bacteria. In most situations, tonsil pain can be remedied with medication, either for pain relief or to kill bacteria. Occasionally, long-term problems can arise and the tonsils will need to be surgically removed.

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