Angina: what is it?
Angina pectoris is an infection of the throat, and more specifically the tonsils. It can extend to the entire pharynx. Angina is caused by a virus – this is the most common case – or by bacteria and is characterized by a severe sore throat.
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In case of angina, itching and pain may occur when swallowing. It can also cause the tonsils to become red and swollen and cause fever, headaches, difficulty speaking, etc.
When the tonsils become red, it is called red tonsillitis. There are also white tonsils where the tonsils are covered with a white deposit.
Angina is particularly common in children and is viral in about 80% of cases.
When it is of bacterial origin, it is caused by a streptococcus (most often strep A or GAS, group A hemolytic β streptococcus) and can have serious complications such as rheumatic fever or kidney inflammation.
This type of streptococcal angina should be treated with antibiotics, particularly to limit the risk of a complication.
Viral strep throat disappears in a few days and is usually not serious and has no consequences.
Angina pectoris is related to circulatory problems in the coronary arteries that supply the heart.
The main cause of these coronary irrigation disorders is arteriosclerosis (thickening or hardening of these arteries).
Efforts that encourage the onset of angina pectoris can be
- Walking on uneven ground or on a hill; –
- Fighting the cold;
- The post-prandial period (after the meal) and therefore of the digestion;
Factors favoring angina pectoris
The risk factors for angina are
- Overweight or obesity;
- High blood pressure;
- Sedentarism (physical inactivity);
- Family history of heart attacks;
- Excess cholesterol and triglycerides (fatty acids)
- Age (45 for men; 55 for women)
Angina is a very common disease. It is estimated that 9 million anginas are diagnosed each year in several countries.
Although it can affect all ages, angina pectoris especially affects children, especially those between the ages of 5 and 15.
Symptoms of Angina Pectoris
- Sore Throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swollen and red tonsils
- Whitish or yellowish deposits on the tonsils
- Glands in the throat or jaw area
- Loss of appetite
- Hoarse voice
- Bad Breath
- Respiratory distress
Complications of Angina Pectoris
Viral angina is usually cured within a few days without complications. But when it is of bacterial origin, angina can have important consequences such as..:
- a pharyngeal abscess, i.e., pus in the back of the tonsils
- an ear infection
- Rheumatic fever, which is an inflammatory disorder affecting the heart, joints, and other tissues.
- glomerulonephritis, an inflammatory disorder affecting the kidney.
These complications can sometimes require hospitalization. Hence the importance of treating them.
Diagnosis of Angina Pectoris
The diagnosis of angina pectoris is made quickly by a simple clinical examination. The doctor carefully examines the tonsils and pharynx.
Differentiating between viral and bacterial angina is more complicated. The symptoms are the same, but not the cause. Signs such as the absence of fever or the gradual onset of the disease tip the balance in favor of a viral origin.
In contrast, the sudden onset or severe sore throat and absence of coughing suggests a bacterial origin.
Bacterial angina and viral angina, although they have the same symptoms, do not require the same treatment.
For example, antibiotics will only be prescribed for bacterial angina.
The physician must be able to differentiate with certainty between the two types of angina and therefore know the origin of the disease.
Therefore, if doubt persists after the clinical examination, a rapid screening test (RDT) is used for streptococcal angina.
To perform this test, the doctor rubs a kind of cotton swab over the patient’s tonsils and then places it in a solution.
After a few minutes, the test will reveal whether or not there are any bacteria in the throat. A sample can also be sent to a laboratory for further testing.
In children under three years of age, RDT is not used because gastric angina is extremely rare and complications such as rheumatic fever (RAA) are not seen in children in this age group.
In order to prevent the development of angina, cardiovascular risk factors should be limited:
- Control or avoid the development of obesity and/or correct an already established overweight (reducing sugars and fats);
- Adopt a diet that prevents the development of arteriosclerosis (Mediterranean diet);
- Performing regular physical activity (walking, swimming, yoga, etc.)
- Try to control and limit insomnia and anxiety; –
- Quit smoking or avoid places where people smoke;
- Stop abusing alcohol; –
- Hypertension or diabetes;
- Treat an abnormal level of lipids in the blood (dyslipidemia).
From the age of 40, it is advisable to perform a cardiological examination when resuming a sporting activity after a long period of inactivity.
Our doctor’s opinion
“Angina is a very common condition, especially in children and adolescents. Most angina pectoris are viral and heal without any special treatment.
However, bacterial angina is more serious and should be treated with antibiotics. Since it is difficult to distinguish between them, it is better to consult your doctor.
If your child has a fever and a sore throat that persists, see your doctor and do so quickly if he or she has difficulty breathing or swallowing, or if he or she drools unusually, which may indicate difficulty in swallowing.
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