Tonsillitis is often perceived as a nuisance type disease - not too serious, and self limiting.
However, those who suffer with it recurrently may have encountered some of the more serious complications - either formation of a peri-tonsillar abscess (known as quinsy) or, worse still, systemic streptococcal disease brought on by the initial tonsillitis. The latter disease is usually caused by Beta-haemolytic streptococcus, and usually group A rather than group B. These bugs can be grown from a throat swab taken from the surface of the infected tonsils.
Consequences of systemic group B Beta-haemolytic streptococcal infection include rheumatic heart disease and glomerulonephritis (kidney disease that may cause complete kidney failure and require dialysis).
Thankfully this group of streptococci are usually sensitive to penicillin derived antibiotics, which if given early enough can stop permanent heart or kidney damage.
For more issues related to tonsils and tonsillectomy, try our Tonsils Frequently Asked Questions page.
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