Angina corresponds to an infection in the throat and more precisely in the tonsils. What are the symptoms that characterize it? How is it diagnosed? Can it be prevented? And how is it treated? Here are our explanations.
What is angina?
Angina corresponds to an infection in the throat, and more precisely in the tonsils. It can extend to the entire pharynx. Angina is characterized by a significant sore throat. It is due to:
- either a virus: this is the most frequent case;
- or to a bacterium.
White angina or red angina: how to recognize it?
When the tonsils turn red, it is called red angina. There is also white tonsillitis, where the tonsils are covered with a white deposit.
Angina: who is affected?
Angina is a very common disease. Thus, there are 9 million diagnoses of angina in France each year. Although it can affect all ages, angina particularly affects children, especially those aged 5 to 15.
Angina in children
Angina is particularly common in children and is in about 80% of cases of viral origin. When it is of bacterial origin, it is caused by streptococcus: most often streptococcus A or GAS, that is to say, ß-hemolytic streptococcus of group A. It can then present serious complications such as:
- rheumatic fever
- kidney inflammation
This type of strep throat must be treated with antibiotics, especially to limit the risk of suffering a complication. Viral tonsillitis disappears within a few days and is usually not serious and inconsequential.
What are the symptoms of angina?
Symptoms of angina include:
- sore throat
- difficulty swallowing
- swollen, red tonsils
- whitish or yellowish deposits on the tonsils;
- lymph nodes in the throat or jaw
- loss of appetite
- a hoarse voice;
- bad breath
- body aches
- stomach aches;
- discomfort with breathing.
What are the complications of angina?
Viral angina usually heals within a few days, without complications. But when it is of bacterial origin, angina can have important consequences such as:
- a pharyngeal abscess, that is, pus at the back of the tonsils;
- ear infection
- rheumatic fever, which is an inflammatory disorder affecting the heart, joints, and other tissues
- glomerulonephritis, which is an inflammatory disorder affecting the kidney.
These complications may sometimes require hospitalization. Hence the importance of treating it.
Angina: how to diagnose it?
The diagnosis of angina is quickly made by a simple clinical examination. The doctor looks closely at the tonsils and pharynx.
Viral or bacterial angina?
Differentiating viral angina from bacterial angina, on the other hand, is more complicated. The symptoms are the same, but not the cause:
- certain signs such as the absence of fever or gradual onset of the disease tip the balance in favor of a viral origin;
- Conversely, sudden onset or significant pain in the throat and the absence of cough suggest a bacterial origin.
Bacterial angina and viral tonsillitis, although presenting the same symptoms, do not require the same treatment. For example, antibiotics will be prescribed only in case of bacterial angina.
The doctor must differentiate with certainty angina in question and therefore know the origin of the disease. Hence the use, if the doubt persists after the clinical examination, of a rapid screening test, or RDT, for strep throat.
Rapid Screening, RDT
To perform this test, the doctor rubs a kind of cotton swab on the patient’s tonsils and then places it in a solution. After a few minutes, the test will reveal the presence or absence of bacteria in the throat. A sample can also be sent to a laboratory for more accurate analysis.
In children under three years of age, RDT is not used because GAS tonsillitis is extremely rare and complications such as rheumatic fever or AAF are not seen in children in this age group.
Some preventive measures can be put in place to prevent the onset of angina. There are also effective treatments to treat it.
Angina: people at risk
People at risk of angina, especially angina of viral origin, are:
- children over three years of age;
What are the risk factors for angina?
Certain periods of the year would be more conducive to the circulation of streptococcus, and therefore to the angina of bacterial origin. These periods are late autumn and early spring. Viral angina is rampant all year round.
Angina: how to prevent it?
The prevention of angina involves simple hygiene measures:
- wash your hands regularly;
- use alcohol-based disinfectants;
- put your hand in front of your mouth when coughing or sneezing;
- use disposable tissues;
- avoid shaking hands with a sick person.
Angina: how to treat it?
It is necessary, when it comes to treatment, to differentiate bacterial angina from viral angina.
Viral tonsillitis heals spontaneously within a few days. They do not require antibiotics. Treatment simply involves fighting the symptoms with:
- antipyretics for fever;
- analgesics for pain.
The latter does not require antibiotics. Instead, your doctor will advise you:
- rest, especially in children;
- good hydration with liquids that are neither too hot nor too cold;
- “soft” foods;
- saltwater gargles;
- humidified air;
- lozenges for sore throat.
Streptococcal angina, on the other hand, requires antibiotics, especially to avoid complications. Antibiotic therapy, usually with penicillin or beta-lactam such as amoxicillin, accelerates the disappearance of symptoms and limits the spread of the germ.
In the case of non-strep bacterial angina, antibiotics must be adapted to the germ found in the sample. In all cases, antibiotics should be taken at the time indicated by the doctor, even if the symptoms have disappeared.
In the case of angina, some complementary approaches make it possible to treat it in a more natural way.
Angina: complementary approaches
Raspberry or bramble leaves
Mouthwash and gargling could cure angina.
It would have shown effectiveness in the treatment of cough1. Used in syrup or infusion, the sage would calm the inflammation present in the throat thanks to anti-inflammatory and antiseptic actions.
Marshmallows would reduce inflammation in the throat but few studies2who have looked into it.
Thanks to its antibacterial properties, it could be effective in the treatment of cough3.
Honey would make the throat less painful.