What Is the Pathophysiology of Tonsillitis?

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Pathophysiology or physiopathology is a convergence of pathology with physiology. Pathology is the medical discipline that describes conditions typically observed during a disease state, whereas physiology is the biological discipline that describes processes or mechanisms operating within an organism. Viral or bacterial infections and immunologic factors lead to tonsillitis and its complications. Overcrowded conditions and malnourishment promote tonsillitis. Most episodes of acute tonsillitis are caused by viruses such as the following:
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Other herpes viruses
  • Adenovirus
  • Measles virus
In one study showing that EBV may cause tonsillitis in the absence of systemic mononucleosis, EBV was found to be responsible for 19% of exudative tonsillitis in children. Bacteria cause 15-30% of cases of pharyngotonsillitis. Anaerobic bacteria play an important role in tonsillar disease. Most cases of bacterial tonsillitis are caused by group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes (GABHS). S pyogenes adheres to adhesin receptors that are located on the tonsillar epithelium. Immunoglobulin coating of pathogens may be important in the initial induction of bacterial tonsillitis.   Keywords: pathophysiology tonsillitis; tonsillitis pathophysiology.  
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