Peritonsillar abscess is a collection of infected material in the area around the tonsils.
Quinsy; Abscess – peritonsillar
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Peritonsillar abscess is a complication of
Peritonsillar abscess is usually a condition of older children, adolescents, and young adults. It has become uncommon with the use of antibiotics to treat tonsillitis.
One or both tonsils become infected. The infection usually spreads behind the tonsil and can then spread down into the neck and chest. Swollen tissues can block the airway. This is a life-threatening medical emergency.
The abscess can break open (rupture) into the throat. The content of the abscess can then travel into the lungs and cause pneumonia.
Symptoms of peritonsillar abscess include:
Fever and chills
- Severe throat pain that is usually on one side
- Difficulty opening the mouth, and pain with opening the mouth
Droolingor inability to swallow saliva
Facial or neck swelling
Tender glands of the jaw and throat
Signs and tests
An examination of the throat often shows swelling on one side and on the roof of the mouth.
The uvula in the back of the throat may be shifted away from the swelling. The neck and throat may be red and swollen on one or both sides.
The following tests may be done:
Aspirationof the abscess using a needle
If the infection is caught early, you will be given antibiotics. More likely, if an abscess has developed, it will need to be drained with a needle or by cutting it open. You will be given pain medicine before this is done.
Sometimes, at the same time the abscess is drained, the tonsils will be removed. In this case, you will be put to sleep with anesthesia.
Peritonsillar abscess usually goes away with treatment, although the infection may return in the future.
Airway obstruction Cellulitisof the jaw, neck, or chest Endocarditis(rare)
- Fluid around the lungs (
- Inflammation around the heart (
pericarditis) Pneumonia Sepsis(infection in the blood)
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider right away if you have had tonsillitis and you develop symptoms of peritonsillar abscess.
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
Pain in the chest
Symptoms that get worse
Treating tonsillitis, especially bacterial tonsillitis, quickly and completely may help prevent an abscess.