A peritonsillar abscess, or quinsy, is a bacterial infection that often begins with complications of tonsillitis or untreated strep throat. This article will detail the best peritonsillar abscess home treatment, as well as everything you need to know about a peritonsillar abscess.
What is a peritonsillar abscess? It results when a sore filled with pus forms near your tonsils. Pus will collect in the tissues next to the tonsils, and the skin becomes highly tender and inflamed.
Although peritonsillar abscesses are often found in anyone, they are most commonly found in children, adolescents, and young adults. Characteristic symptoms of the condition include swelling in the neck region and pain and blockage of the throat.
Constriction of the throat can cause problems swallowing, speaking, and breathing.
The main cause of a peritonsillar abscess is tonsillitis; however, other causes include mononucleosis and gum and tooth infections. That being said, it is also possible for a peritonsillar abscess to occur without an infection.
Peritonsillar abscesses can be treated in a variety of ways, including antibiotics and painkillers. Peritonsillar abscess treatment will also include natural remedies like homeopathy.
Read on to learn more about the peritonsillar abscess symptoms, causes, risk factors, how to diagnosis the condition, as well as the main treatment and prevention methods of peritonsillar abscesses.
Peritonsillar Abscess (Quinsy) Symptoms
Let’s examine peritonsillar abscess symptoms in further detail.
Symptoms of a peritonsillar abscess are considered similar to those of strep throat and tonsillitis.
One difference with a peritonsillar abscess is that you may be able to see your abscess at the back of your throat. It will actually look like a white and swollen blister or boil.
It is common for a delay of two to five days between the onset of peritonsillar abscess symptoms and abscess formation. The abscess can also break open into your throat, and the contents can travel into the lungs and cause pneumonia.
Rare and more serious symptoms also include infected lungs and blocked airways. It is also severe when the infection spreads to the mouth, neck, chest, and throat.
The following are some of the most common peritonsillar abscess symptoms:
- Infection of one or both tonsils
- Muffled voice
- Chills or fever
- Severe throat pain often on one side
- Ear pain on the side of the sore throat
- Difficulty opening the mouth fully
- Problems swallowing, especially drooling or the inability to swallow saliva
- Swollen glands in the jaw and throat, which are tender to the touch
- Neck or facial swelling
- Bad breath
Peritonsillar Abscess Causes
As mentioned, a peritonsillar abscess is most often caused by a tonsillitis complication. The bacteria involved in a peritonsillar abscess are similar those that cause strep throat.
Streptococcal bacteria or a bacteria group called group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus is the most common cause of an infection in the soft tissue around the tonsils that often appears on one side of the tonsils.
The tissue is then invaded with anaerobes—bacteria that can live without oxygen.
Peritonsillar abscess causes can also include mononucleosis—also called mono. It is a virus spread through saliva caused from Epstein-Barr virus.
Additionally, gum and tooth infections like gingivitis and periodontitis can cause peritonsillar abscesses.
However, other times, the condition can occur without an infection. This is often due to inflammation of Weber glands—glands located under the tongue that produce saliva.
Peritonsillar Abscess Risk Factors
Risk factors of a peritonsillar abscess also include smoking, chronic tonsillitis, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and tonsiloliths—calcium deposits or stones in the tonsils.
If you do not have chronic tonsillitis, the chance of the abscess returning is just 10%, and the removal of tonsils is often not necessary.
Complications from a peritonsillar abscess are most often seen in diabetics and people with weakened immune systems like cancer patients, AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) patients, and transplant recipients taking immune-suppressing drugs.
Major complications of a peritonsillar abscess include:
- Dehydration from difficulty swallowing
- Airway blockage
- Pericarditis—inflammation around the heart
- Endocarditis—inflammation of heart valves and chambers
- Cellulitis of the neck, jaw, or chest
- Bleeding from erosion of the abscess in a major blood vessel
- Infections in the tissues beneath of the breastbone
- Pleural effusion—fluid around the lungs
- Sepsis—bacteria in the bloodstream
Peritonsillar Abscess (Quinsy) Diagnosis
How does a doctor diagnose a peritonsillar abscess—or quinsy? Basically, a doctor performs an examination of your throat and mouth. They will take a blood test or throat culture to diagnose peritonsillar abscess.
The doctor will also pay attention to key signs of an abscess, such as swelling on the roof of the mouth, swelling on one side of the throat, and swelling and redness of the neck and throat.
Lymph nodes are also often enlarged on one side of the throat and neck.
Furthermore, your doctor may order a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan to get a closer look of the peritonsillar abscess.
The doctor might also use aspiration, which is drawing fluid from the abscess with a needle. The fluid is then examined to test for an infection. A fiber optic endoscopy may also check if there is a blockage in your airway.
Peritonsillar Abscess Treatment
Want to know how to get rid of peritonsillar abscess? This section will detail traditional remedies as well as peritonsillar abscess home treatment.
Antibiotics are the most common peritonsillar abscess treatment. Your doctor may also decide to drain the pus in the abscess to help accelerate the healing process. This procedure will cut the abscess and release fluid.
You also may receive fluids for intravenous hydration through an IV if you are unable to drink or eat.
After you are treated for peritonsillar abscess, symptoms should disappear within a five- to seven-day timeframe.
The following are medical procedures, medications, homeopathic remedies, and natural remedies associated with peritonsillar abscess treatment.
1. Needle Aspiration
This technique is used to drain build-up of fluid from the abscess. It involves using a long, fine needle to remove pus. You may be given a local anesthetic to help numb the area and a sedative to help you relax.
After the procedure, fluid is removed from the abscess, which is then sent to a laboratory for identifying the specific bacteria that causes the infection.
2. Incision and Drainage
An incision may also be made to your peritonsillar abscess to drain fluid from it. Incision and drainage is performed while you are under sedation, local anesthetic, or general anesthetic to put you to sleep.
This is an operation to remove the tonsils. It may be recommended for cases of a peritonsillar abscess or for frequent sore throats.
Some people also have a tonsillectomy to prevent a returning peritonsillar abscess.
Antibiotics are most often prescribed to treat a peritonsillar abscess. They are usually given intravenously, which is more effective than antibiotic tablets.
The most common peritonsillar abscess antibiotics include erythromycin, clindamycin, amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and phenoxymethylpenicillin.
The choice of antibiotics will depend on the bacteria that caused your infection.
Corticosteroids are another peritonsillar abscess treatment to help reduce swelling for those with severe difficulty swallowing or a severe sore throat.
These are a group of steroid hormones that target inflammation, including swelling and redness.
Painkillers may be prescribed to help alleviate pain. The most common painkillers for peritonsillar abscesses include ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Homeopathic remedies are also used to help treat peritonsillar abscess symptoms.
Belladonna in particular may treat swollen and tender glands, a dry throat and mouth, and bright red swelling with intense pain and throbbing. Pain typically worsens from noise, light, or lying down.
Silicea is another homeopathy remedy used for the painless swelling of glands and keloid growth. Hepar sulphuris calcareum is also used for poor skin, sore throat, and very sensitive abscesses. Pain will worsen from swallowing when hepar sulphuris is needed.
Natural remedies are also used to increase immunity. If you have a problem with swallowing, it is a good idea to consume smooth and soft foods like vegetable and fruit smoothies and juices, mashed potatoes, applesauce, and soups.
Drinking plenty of fluids will also help with hydration and flush out the system. Raw honey is also an effective treatment for sore throat issues.
In addition, an anti-inflammatory diet will help boost the immune system. This type of diet contains lots of green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, nuts and seeds, unrefined oils, berries, and omega-3 foods like wild seafood.
The diet is also free common processed foods, high-sugar foods, and common allergens like gluten, soy, dairy, and shellfish.
It is also beneficial to gargle with warm salt water or suck on natural lozenges with fennel or licorice. There are also herbal remedies used to lower inflammation and relieve coughs, pain, and sore throats.
Some of these herbs include marshmallow root, slippery elm, sage, burdock root, and echinacea.
Peritonsillar Abscess (Quinsy) Prevention
How do you prevent a peritonsillar abscess? The best prevention tips include quitting smoking cigarettes and maintaining good dental hygiene.
Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily, especially after meals; use a tongue scrapper after brushing; and use a natural antibacterial mouthwash with essential oils like peppermint oil, thyme oil, cinnamon oil, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil.
Also, change your toothbrush every month or two to avoid build-up of bacteria in the mouth.
When taking an antibiotic, pairing it with a probiotic is always a good idea to replenish the good bacteria in the body. A high-quality probiotic supplement is designed to balance the bacteria in the body and prevent infections like a peritonsillar abscess.
You can also increase the amount of probiotic foods in the diet, such as kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
In summary, a peritonsillar abscess—a quinsy—is a bacterial infection due to tonsillitis or strep throat. In fact, symptoms of a peritonsillar abscess look quite similar to tonsillitis and strep throat.
You will experience a number of symptoms like chills, fevers, headaches, severe throat pain, and bad breath. Peritonsillar abscess causes also include mono, and gum and tooth infections.
Antibiotics are often used to treat a peritonsillar abscess. Other conventional treatment includes painkillers and corticosteroids, as well as medical procedures like needle aspirations, incision and drainage, and a tonsillectomy.
Homeopathy and other natural remedies like an anti-inflammatory diet and various herbs are also used to treat a peritonsillar abscess.
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