NHS A&E doctor explains what white spots on tonsils mean - and when to see a GP

doctor throat
The NHS GP has issued a warning -Credit:Getty

If you notice white spots on your tonsils, your first thought may be that you have tonsillitis and need medication - but this might not be the case, an NHS GP has warned.

The health worker, who is also an A&E doctor, took to TikTok to explain what white spots on tonsils can indicate and when you need to see a GP, stressing antibiotics is not always the answer.

The doctor explains that while antibiotics are often prescribed for tonsillitis, he warns they are "not always necessary" and may even cause "resistance" to the drugs.

Dr Sooj, also known as @doctorsooj, said: "white spots on your tonsils does not necessarily mean you need antibiotics, white spots on your tonsils purely means they are inflamed, that there is pus in them and that there is an infection."

But by looking at your throat, you often can't tell whether you have a viral or bacterial infection. The doctor stressed that there are lots of other factors that need to be considered before you get antibiotics.

Discussing tonsillitis, Dr Sooj says that, typically, it lasts for about seven days and giving a patient antibiotics will reduce this from one week to just 6.25 days. He added: "So you don't even reduce the course of the illness for more than a day."

Because there are a number of factors doctors consider when prescribing medication, he urges: "When you go to your appointment, please don't just demand antibiotics because it's not always necessary."

Talking about the unnecessary use of antibiotics, he said that it's estimated by 2050, "there will be more than 10 million deaths a year from anti-biotic resistance."

The NHS themselves state on their website: "Both the NHS and health organisations across the world are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics, especially for health problems that are not serious."

This includes illness like chest infections, ear infections in children and sore throats. They add: "The overuse of antibiotics in recent years means they're becoming less effective and has led to the emergence of 'superbugs'."

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If you are concerned, always seek advice from your GP.

Tonsillitis symptoms according to NHS

The health service says that tonsillitis can feel like a "bad cold or flu" and your tonsils at the sides of your throat will be red and swollen.

The main symptoms in children and adults are:

  • a sore throat

  • problems swallowing

  • a high temperature

  • coughing

  • a headache

  • feeling and being sick

  • earache

  • feeling tired

Sometimes the symptoms can be more severe and include:

  • swollen, painful glands in your neck (feels like a lump on the side of your neck)

  • pus-filled spots or white patches on your tonsils

  • bad breath

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