Peritonsillar Abscess

More than just tonsillitis, this is an abscess in and around the tonsils.ย  We suspect this over and above a simple sore throat when there’s:

  • High fever
  • Patient can barely open their mouth
  • Maybe drooling
  • We see swelling in front of one tonsil (maybe can’t see the tonsil itself), and the uvula is pushed toward the opposite side (the uvula is the small finger-like flap that hangs in the back of the throat in the middle)

Mild cases may get better with antibiotics.ย  But sometimes it’s necessary for a specialist to drain the abscess with syringe & needle, usually done in the ER since the patient is pretty sick.

If a patient with sore throat so sick they’re drooling, neck bent forward, we never examine the throat.ย  They might have Epiglottitis (infection of the epiglottis, see Diagram — Upper Respiratory Tract).ย  If so, the least little gag might cause spasm of the trachea (tube to the lungs), cutting off air & causing death.

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