What is this Painful Throat Abscess?
If you’re suffering pain in your throat near your tonsils, you may have what is known as a peritonsillar abscess. This is a pocket of pus that accumulates at the site of infection in the soft tissues of your mouth or throat.
The problem often begins from an infection of the tonsils, or tonsillitis, and spread to the adjacent soft tissues through the glands, normally on one side. It is a bacterial infection similar to strep throat.
Peritonsillar Abscess Symptoms
You will most likely experience swelling and pain as the first symptoms. However, sometimes these peritonsillar abscesses can grow large enough to swell and block the throat. That’s when talking, swallowing and breathing can become difficult and painful. Then, as the infection accumulates, you may experience these other symptoms:
• Fever and chills
• Painful or difficulty swallowing
• Swollen mouth or throat in the area of the infection
• Enlarged or tender lymph glands (in the side of the neck)
• Ear pain on the side of the infection
• A muffled voice
• Jaw and neck spasms
While generally uncommon, a peritonsillar abscess is most likely to occur in adolescents, older children and young adults.
Causes of a peritonsillar abscess can include:
• Infectious mononucleosis
• Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
• Calcium deposits in the tonsils (tonsilloliths)
Who Should I Call?
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a peritonsillar abscess, contact your physician to set an appointment. However, if you are having difficulty speaking, trouble breathing or notice drooling, you should visit the emergency room immediately. This could indicate a potential airway obstruction.
Your doctor will examine your throat and may recommend testing for mononucleosis (associated with 20% of peritonsillar abscesses). He or she may also send samples of the pus to a lab to determine the type of bacteria. The most recommended treatment is a dosage of antibiotic to fight the infection. Penicillin is the best option.
There are no preventive measures to keep from getting a peritonsillar abscess. Simply maintain good dental hygiene, treat any tooth or oral infection immediately, and don’t smoke.
Good Dental Health Begins at Advanced Family Dentistry
At Advanced Family Dentistry, we take any kind of oral infection seriously, so let us know if you are experiencing discomfort that may indicate an infection. We like to keep a record on any types of changes in your oral health, from your teeth to the soft tissues of your mouth and throat, since any problem can potentially impact your teeth.
We are proud to offer the finest in dental services to the families of Northern Virginia and the DC metropolitan area. Please visit our practice, and make us your family dentist for life. Contact us today to set your dental appointment.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.
Advanced Family Dentistry
Dr. Sonny Kim, DMD
11876 Sunrise Valley Dr, Suite 101
Reston, VA 20191