Quinsy Throat, And How It Is Treated
Just what is a quinsy throat? - The simple answer would be that it is a sore throat, a very sore throat in fact. Not all sore throats are quinsy throats however. In fact, very few are. A sore throat is usually associated with a viral or bacterial infection that irritates the tissues of the throat. A quinsy throat, often referred to simply as quinsy, is an infection in the throat, an infection that is located behind the tonsils. It is usually a very bad infection. It can spread, and often will if left untreated. The medical term for quinsy is a peritonsillar abscess, or PTA. A peritonsillar abscess is actually a bit more descriptive of what actually is happening.
The symptoms of PTA are similar to those of tonsillitis, but are almost always more severe. PTA is basically a complication of tonsillitis, which occurs when the saliva ducts behind the tonsils become clogged, allowing debris to accumulate. An infection can then set in. In most instances when there is an infection, an abscess will form. Medication is usually the initial form of treatment, but in many if not most cases, surgery will be required to remove infected tissue and clean up the infected area.
What Are The Symptoms And Dangers? - If one waits too long before seeking treatment, necrosis (death) in tissues in the infected area may occur. In addition, material may break free from the infected area and be aspirated into the lungs, which can cause very severe complications. A peritonsillar abscess is not particularly common, but should one suspect such an abscess is present it's important to seek medical attention quickly. Since the primary symptoms are a very sore throat, accompanied by difficulty in swallowing, most people who are affected by quinsy do not need to be reminded to see a doctor. Often, the first sign of PTA is either when symptoms of tonsillitis suddenly become much worse, or the pain or discomfort associated with a sore throat suddenly becomes much worse.
One of the real dangers of PTA is if the abscess that forms becomes large enough to block the air passages. If one is experiencing breathing difficulties in addition to a sore throat, and also has problems in swallowing, it may constitute an emergency situation since breathing may be cut off completely if the abscess is allowed to become too large.
Who Is Affected? - Whereas tonsillitis most often affects younger children, a quinsy throat is more likely to affect children in their teens and adults. It is not a particularly common condition however, one reason being that many people have had their tonsils removed at an earlier age. That is not to say that PTA can't occur if one is without tonsils, but such an occurrence would really be quite rare, since as mentioned before, PTA is in most cases a complication of tonsillitis.
It was mentioned that one sign of PTA is when the symptoms of tonsillitis or a simple sore throat suddenly get worse. There are times however when the symptoms can appear more gradually. Even if that is the case, they will progressively get worse. Symptoms of PTA are often felt several days before an abscess actually forms, with the initial symptoms being a sore throat accompanied by difficulty in swallowing. As the infection worsens other symptoms appear, such as fever, earaches, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes which cause neck pain. The affected person's voice may change to some degree, such that correctly pronouncing vowel sounds often can become difficult.
The infection associated with PTA is a bacterial infection. Treatment would therefore be expected to center around an administration of antibiotics. A culture would need to be taken to determine the type of antibiotic that would be most effective. When an antibiotic is administered it will usually be given intravenously, as this method tends to be much more effective than giving an antibiotic orally. In addition to antibiotics, corticosteroids will also be given. The purpose of the corticosteroids is to reduce swelling. Finally, pain killers will be prescribed in almost all cases.
How Is It Treated? - If surgery is required, which is most often the case, it is not major surgery, but instead is a surgical procedure during which the abscess is aspirated, using a fine needle to draw out the pus. Sometimes an incision is made instead, and the pus and other fluids are drained away. The surgical procedure can usually be done using a local anesthetic although there are instances when use of a general anesthetic is deemed to be more appropriate. Even if the surgical procedure is not classified as major surgery, recovery can often involve several days in the hospital, and the pain is likely to continue for some time. Once released from the hospital, a week or so of rest is usually recommended, and is usually welcomed.
A person who still has their tonsils and is treated for quinsy has approximately a 15% chance of the condition recurring. For this reason, many who are treated for a quinsy throat elect to have their tonsils removed.