Angina may appear suddenly, even from hour to hour. Most often when the weather is not good, when it is cold or rainy outside the window and vitamin-rich food rarely appears on your plate. As it usually happens in winter and spring, next to infections such as covid or flu, you come to the doctor with tonsillitis.
For some important medical details about angina, we asked family medicine physician Krzysztof Wiórkowski.
What is tonsillitis and when does it happen most often?
- Angina is an acute inflammation of the throat and palatine tonsils most often caused by viruses (90-95%, also infectious mononucleosis caused by EBV virus), less often by bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes is responsible for the majority - streptococcal pharyngitis and tonsillitis). The infection is transmitted by droplet from another sick person, rarely an asymptomatic carrier. The highest incidence occurs in late autumn, winter and early spring, but this does not mean that we cannot get tonsillitis also in summer.
Acute pharyngitis or tonsillitis? How to recognise it?
- Streptococcal pharyngitis and tonsillitis are characterised by an abrupt onset - severe sore throat, fever, vividly red enlarged tonsils with purulent plaques, enlarged cervical lymph nodes. Most often children in the age range of 5-15 years are ill. In viral inflammation - a cold, there is a sore throat, slight fever or normal body temperature, cough, runny nose, red throat and tonsils. In mononucleosis, we can also observe generalised lymphadenopathy, abdominal pain, and plaques on the tonsils.
How to treat angina?
- Most pharyngitis, even bacterial pharyngitis, resolves spontaneously within a few days. However, it should be remembered that untreated streptococcal pharyngitis is associated with a higher risk of purulent complications (peri-tongue abscess, purulent lymphadenitis) and immunological complications (rheumatic fever, acute glomerulonephritis). Rapid tests for Streptoccocus pyogenes antigen, as well as throat swab cultures, can be helpful in diagnosing streptococcal pharyngitis.
In the treatment of bacterial pharyngitis, an antibiotic should be used. In addition, symptomatic treatment is important: antipyretics and painkillers, local lozenges on the mucous membrane of the throat, adequate hydration.
Can you eat ice cream during angina?
- Many myths have developed around eating ice cream during throat illness. There is a widespread belief that ice cream for tonsillitis is one of the home remedies. Where do such conclusions come from? Well, ice cream acts as a cold compress, relieves burning and scratching and reduces swelling in the throat. Unfortunately, it is a temporary solution. It will not eliminate the ailment, but only relieve it for a short time.
At the beginning of the disease, when the patient has a fever, cold food should be avoided. Then ice-cream in angina, just like drinking a frozen drink, may exacerbate the troublesome symptoms. For the duration of the ailment it is worth to introduce a liquid or strongly fragmented diet. You can support yourself with gargles, inhalations, humidifying air, but remember about the most important rule: Angina is not cured by itself!