Tonsillitis Tests and Diagnosis

Throat Swab

The most widely used test to diagnose for tonsillitis is a throat swab.  This test entails the use of a sterile swab that is rubbed on the swollen tonsil. The procedure may be a little bit uncomfortable although the whole process may only take a second or two. You may feel like gagging during the procedure. Small children need to be restrained and comforted during the entire process. The sample fluids accumulated on the swab are then examined to see if a streptococcus bacteria strain is the culprit causing the infection. This is often done at the physician’s office and takes only about 5 minutes to do. An overnight culture that is left for one to two days can also be done

Results

If the results of the throat swab test turn out positive for streptococcus, the physician will then prescribe for you a course of antibiotics. A negative result may mean that you suffer from a viral infection instead. This means that the doctor may advise that you either use over-the-counter drugs for your throat pain or rest at home.  Unlike some years back, today’s treatment of tonsillitis rarely entail the surgical removal of the tonsils.

Accuracy

One of the best diagnostic tools for tonsillitis is the rapid strep test that can accurately identify about 95% – 98% percent of tonsillitis infections resulting from Group A strep. The rapid strep test has approximately a 2 % window of error of giving out a false positive.

Blood Test

A blood test is seldom used to help diagnose the correct cause of tonsillitis. A CBC or complete blood count can determine (or not) if a viral infection is causing the inflamed tonsils.  The presence of viruses that cause mononucleosis will spike the white blood cell count which can be detected by CBC.

If a patient has sore throat and exhibits a swollen and tender neck as well, this may indicate tonsillitis. These manifestations are usually seen in children when a bacteria or virus inflames their tonsils making them all swollen and painful.  Fortunately, the physician can utilize a throat swab to easily and quickly diagnose the cause of your pain.

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