Last week, I felt pain at the back of my throat. It wasn’t the first time in the past month. The pain was quite excruciating, especially when swallowing or eating solid foods. It would persist for a few days, and then it would subside, though not completely gone. After about two weeks or so, the pain would come back. It happened for 3 cycles. On the third cycle, I decided to see the doctor at Banyan Clinic and to get rid of this pain once and for all.
The doctor’s diagnosis was tonsillitis. Before seeing the doctor, I kinda suspected that it was tonsillitis, but couldn’t confirm it visually. I couldn’t tell if the back of my throat was actually swollen and red, although I could feel a lump at the back of my throat, suspecting that something was swollen. Was there a stuck fishbone? Was there an ulcer? Were my lymph nodes swollen? A quick check online on the symptoms associated with tonsillitis seemed to agree with what I had over the past few days.
Tonsillitis is basically inflammation of your tonsils. Your tonsils forms part of the lymph node at the back of your throat that harbours your immune cells. It forms a primary defence system, constantly exposed to foreign matter (through your mouth) and doing surveillance work to keep pathogens and infections in check.
An inflamed tonsils would indicate that there is an infection, and it happens to be the tonsils. And because it is inflamed and infected, you feel acute pain when you swallow. Because of the infection, the doctor gave me antibiotics to complete, mouth gargle thymol and dextrosone, to damp down inflammation and reduce pain.
The treatment worked. The mouth gargle and antibiotics helps to clear out bacteria in my mouth, so as to facilitate recovery and reduce inflammation. The pain was more manageable after two days and it’s back to normal after five days or so. In fact, I can tolerate the pain pretty well, except mealtimes. The pain that I cannot tolerate is the headache associated with tonsillitis. There were a couple of instances where I just had to take paracetamol to dull the pain, useful especially at night when I need to sleep.
Thankfully, I only had low-grade fever and even then, it wasn’t persistent. My appetite was dampened somewhat on the days where my tonsils felt most painful, but I could still eat, and I still feel hunger and the need to be fed.
This is my first time getting tonsillitis. I may never know the true cause. Is it because of me reusing disposable masks days on end? Or is it because of me snoring and keep my mouth open and dry while sleeping (which the doctor strongly suspects). That could be plausible, as there were certain nights where I did not completely feel rested. I know I snore at night when sleeping on my back, but this time, it felt different. For the first time, it felt as if my snore, and possibly sleep apnea is affecting my level of ‘rested’ state. In other words, I sometimes feel as if I need more sleep to feel rested, despite clocking in sufficient hours of rest the night before.
I doubt this will be the one and only time getting tonsillitis as I know my snore will get worse as I age and since my dad has sleep apnea, I will definitely get it too as I age.
But tonsillitis isn’t a serious health crisis. It is treatable. There are ways to minimise the chances of getting it in the future. For example you could minimise snoring by sleeping on your sides more often or ensuring that the air at night is not too dry. You could also ensure that your bedsheets and pillowcases are changed regularly so as to not sleep on a bed full of bacteria.