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Severely painful and swollen tonsil, taking over throat!
CalinCeleste posted:
Let me start out by telling you a little bit about me.

I am a 21 year old female from Illinois. I am taking no medications at all, and never have. I have no medical history to speak of as I have never been sick before. (Seriously. I haven't even had the flu.) Once or twice a year I get a cold and once or twice a year I may also get a pretty bad sore throat. I also have no insurance and I'm a colege student so I am POOR. This means no visit to a doctor at all.

Okay, so I have had an awful sore throat for five days now. Because I get a sore throat almost every year, I don't worry about how long it's been lasting and how severe the pain is. This is common for me. This time is a little different though.

I woke up last Sunday in excrutiating pain. My left tonsil is swollen so large it is pushing my uvula off to the other side of my throat. It is so big that sometimes when trying to swallow liquids, they are pushed up into my nose, if that makes any sense. Sort of the sensation when you laugh while drinking and the liquid comes out of your nose. The tonsil is a little red, but not too much different than its normal color. Multiple lymph nodes on the left side of my neck are swollen as well. Every time I get a cold or sore throat, my lymph nodes swell and are visible beneath the skin, so this isn't uncommon either. I believe my adenoids are swollen as well.

Usually when I have a sore throat, it's more of a burning sensation like the skin has been rubbed raw. This sore throat only really hurts when that left tonsil moves. So any swallowing I do is incredibly painful, and I have a high pain tolerance. This is baaad. You don't realize how often you are forced to swallow your own saliva until something like this happens. Geeze. Sometimes the pain seems like it is deep inside of my ear when I swallow, but I am guessing that is because the two are so close and the general area is hurting.

Also, normally my sore throats come with white spots on my tonsils as well. My tonsil has had no white spots until tonight. Tonight I noticed a black spot on my tonsil with a little string of white attached to it. It's hard to explain, but it's basically the same white stuff that the spots usually are except it's almost like a thin layer of flesh that moves around with my swallowing and saliva, anchored by one end. I've tried to remove it because I'm pretty grossed out about it, but I am unable to touch my tonsil with a Q-Tip or anything. My gag reflex seems to be extremely heightened as well.

Normally I can handle pain and just take it like a champ. That may not be the smartest thing, but my financial situation definitely dictates how I am forced to react. I have nothing else wrong with me that I know of. I have no fever at all, no aches or pains, nothing out of the ordinary except possibly a little bit of mucus in my nose. I am not tired and haven't lost my appetite. I don't feel weak or dizzy. I'm normal aside from this dang tonsil.

Basically, I am really suffering here. I cannot sleep. I wake up every half an hour to hour because the urge to swallow is so strong and the pain is so excrutiating when I do. I am afraid I may become dehydrated because even water is an absolute feat to swallow. I have tried warm tea, ice cold water, sucking on ice cubes, throat numbing spray, and Dayquil/Nyquil. I have not eaten since Monday, so it's been three days without food. My stomach is growling something fierce! I have made myself choke down at least some chicken bouillion but this is rediculous. Any help would be appreciated!!! (I just hope you don't say, "Go see a doctor," BECAUSE I CAN'T!!!!) I'd have to literally be dying to spend that money, although I may well be if I can't eat or drink soon...
CalinCeleste responded:
College* (that word is extra embarassing to spell incorrectly)
Rod Moser, PA, PhD responded:
If you are a college student then you KNOW that I have no way of blindly diagnosing (or treating) you over the Internet, based solely on your posting. Insurance or not, this is something that cannot be done.

With that said, I am VERY worried about your symptoms. Unilateral tonsillar swelling, like you described, may be a PERITONSILLAR ABSCESS. This is VERY serious and you need to go to the emergency room. If you do have an abscess, that can be life-treatening. It will need to be drained ASAP. Again, I can't see it....I can't examine you....and I can't reach across cyberspace and treat you.

What would you do if you had a big laceration on your face? Or, fell and severely broke your arm? You would go to the ER, insurance or not. Your health and well-being is much more important than worrying about financial constraints.

Make the intelligent decision and get examined NOW.
danratherson responded:
I am experiencing your exact same situation, down to every last detail. What was the outcome on this with you?
danratherson replied to danratherson's response:
Update: I went to the ER. They did diagnose it as a peritonsillar abscess, although they weren't sure that I truly had a pocket, and I refused the CAT scan that they wanted to run to check me, so they didn't try to drain the infected site. I also refused the steroids they wanted to administer to shrink the swelling but did allow them to give me antibiotics by IV and also a prescription for them, and I was in much less pain by the time I left.
Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to danratherson's response:
Good outcome, I hope.

There is nothing wrong with taking a short course of steroids, often less of dose you would gladly take if you were covered in poison oak or ivy. In cases of severe tonsillar swelling, they can save your life by sparing your airway. Breathing is important.

The CT is a quick and safe test to see if you do, indeed, have a surgical emergency. Many peritonsillar abscesses need to be promptly drained, or even need an emergency tonsillectomy. By not having this objective information by refusing, your doctor had to make a guess.

Many peritonsillar abcesses are Strep or other pathogens, so antibiotics are appropriate.
Cjstevens1983 responded:
I had the same issue. Just go to a clinic and ask for antibiotics. After 2 days of taking them I felt 100% better.

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