What is it?

A peritonsillar abscess forms in the tissues of the throat next to one of the tonsils. An abscess is a collection of pus that forms near an area of infected skin or other soft tissue.
The abscess can cause pain, swelling, and, if severe, blockage of the throat. If the throat is blocked, swallowing, speaking, and even breathing become difficult.

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Signs & symptoms

The first symptom of a peritonsillar abscess is usually a sore throat. A period without fever or other symptoms may follow as the abscess develops. It is not unusual for a delay of 2 to 5 days between the start of symptoms and abscess formation.
* The mouth and throat may show a swollen area of inflammation -- typically on one side.
* The uvula may be shoved away from the swollen side of the mouth.
* Lymph glands in the neck may be enlarged and tender.

Other signs and symptoms may be observed:
* Painful swallowing
* Fever and chills
* Spasm in the muscles of the jaw (trismus) and neck (torticollis)
* Ear pain on the same side as the abscess
* A muffled voice, often described as a "hot potato" voice
* Difficulty swallowing saliva


A peritonsillar abscess is usually diagnosed based on history and a physical exam. A peritonsillar abscess is easy to diagnose when it is large enough to see. The doctor will look into the mouth. Swelling and redness on one side of the throat near the tonsil suggests an abscess.
Lab tests and X-rays are not used often. Sometimes an X-ray, CT scan, or an ultrasound will be performed, typically to make sure other upper airway illnesses are not present. These conditions may include the following:
* Epiglottitis
* Retropharyngeal abscess
* Peritonsillar cellulitis


The doctor's primary concern is the breathing and airway. If a patient life is in danger because the throat is blocked, the first step may be to insert a needle in the pus pocket and drain away enough fluid so you can breathe comfortably.
If life is not in immediate danger, the doctor will make every effort to keep the procedure as painless as possible. a patient will receive a local anesthetic injected into the skin over the abscess and, if necessary, IV pain medicine and sedation. The doctor will use suction to help you avoid swallowing pus and blood.

The doctor has several options for treating:
* Needle aspiration involves slowly putting a needle into the abscess and withdrawing the pus into a syringe.
* Incision and drainage involves using a scalpel to make a small cut in the abscess so pus can drain.
* Acute tonsillectomy

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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