Antibiotics may be necessary to treat tonsillitis, in the case of a bacterial infection. The antibiotics must be taken for the entire time prescribed by the doctor to keep the tonsillitis from coming back or getting worse. Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen treat the discomfort of the sore throat and help to control the fever that may be present with tonsillitis caused by a virus.
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Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Tonsillitis is usually caused by a virus and does not require prescription medicine. Gargling with salt water and taking over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help manage symptoms as the body fights off the infection. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome, a serious but rare problem.
An antibiotic, usually penicillin, is used to treat tonsillitis caused by strep bacteria. Although tonsillitis caused by strep bacteria usually will go away on its own, antibiotics are used to prevent the complications, such as rheumatic fever, that can result from untreated strep throat.
Medication Choices: Antibiotics, such as penicillin, are used to treat tonsillitis caused by strep bacteria.
What to Think About: Cough and cold medicines may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Before you use these medicines, check the label. Many over-the-counter remedies, including antiseptic mouthwashes, decongestants, and antihistamines, contain extra ingredients that don't relieve discomfort. These remedies are not recommended for children, as these ingredients have not been proved to have any benefits in the treatment of acute tonsillitis.
If antibiotics are prescribed, be sure you take them exactly as directed by your doctor until the medicine is gone. Even if the symptoms go away completely before the prescription is gone, all pills should be taken as directed to make sure the infection is completely destroyed. Bacteria can become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat tonsillitis (antibiotic resistance) if prescriptions aren't taken as directed or if they are prescribed when they aren't needed.
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