Angina: What is it? What are its symptoms and diagnosis?

Definition, symptoms and diagnosis of angina: Angina is an inflammation of the tonsils (commonly referred to as red angina or white angina depending on the appearance of the tonsils). It is viral (most often) or bacterial. The diagnosis of its viral or bacterial origin determines the necessary treatment.

What is angina?
Angina is an inflammation of the tonsils of infectious origin. Disease most often without gravity, angina is manifested by a sore throat causing difficulty in swallowing and fever (between 38 °c and 39 °c). Other symptoms (cough, cold, digestive disorders…) may also be present.

What’s the use of tonsils?
The tonsils are lymphoid organs used for immune defense: They are the first dam to infectious agents (viruses, bacteria) that penetrate through the mouth or nose. There are two of them and are located at the bottom of the gorge.

Angina is a common disease.
Every year in France, about nine million Angina are diagnosed.

The two major TYPES of angina

There are two types of angina:
Viral angina, the most common, due to a virus,
and bacterial angina caused by bacteria, usually a “strep”.
The virus or bacteria is transmitted by air, when coughing or sneezing, by physical contact or by contact with objects themselves contaminated by secretions of the nose or throat (toys, handkerchiefs, telephone, etc.).

Distinguishing between viral angina and bacterial angina is important because their treatment is different.

Viral angina, the most common
Depending on age, 50 to 90% of angina is due to a virus. They should not be treated with antibiotics, which are ineffective on viruses.

Bacterial angina
Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus is the main bacterium that causes angina. This strep bacterial angina represents 25 to 40% of the cases in the child, and only 10 to 25% in the adult. Children under three years of age rarely have strep throat.

Symptoms of angina and medical examination
Angina is manifested by pain from the back throat, increased during swallowing which is difficult, and is accompanied by fever.

Other symptoms may be associated with: rhinitis, cough, hoarseness, headaches…

The throat test is used to diagnose angina:

  • The tonsils are increased in volume and red: erythematous angina or more commonly called red angina,
  • The tonsils are covered with a whitish coating: white angina.
  • The appearance of the tonsils (red angina or white angina) does not help to know if angina is viral or bacterial (strep).

However, other signs may guide the physician’s diagnosis to group a strep throat:

  • Fever above 38 °c and shivering,
  • swollen and painful neck ganglia,
  • No coughing,
  • Associated abdominal pain…

The rapid diagnosis TEST of angina (TDR angina)
To diagnose the origin of angina, doctors have the “rapid diagnosis test of angina” (TDR angina). It helps to know if angina is a group A streptococcus bacterial angina.

It is made available free of charge to general practitioners, pediatricians and ENT by health insurance.

How is a rapid diagnosis test of angina going?
This test is performed by the doctor during his consultation.

TDR angina is painless and simple; It only takes a few minutes.

After his examination, the Doctor makes a sample of the tonsils with a swab (a kind of large cotton swab), which he then places in a tube containing a reagent. A strip is immersed in this liquid.

Depending on the color of this strip, the doctor knows if angina is due to a group A streptococcus.

In what cases do you perform a rapid diagnosis test of angina?

The rapid diagnosis test for angina is not always useful:

It is recommended to do this in children from 3 years of age. Before 3 years, the test is useless because bacterial angina is very rare.
For adults, the doctor deems it useful after examining the patient.
If the test is positive, it means that angina is caused by group A streptococcal bacteria and that antibiotic treatment is necessary.

On the other hand, if the test is negative, viral angina does not require antibiotic treatment.

Three key points to remember to recognize angina
To recognize and cure angina, three points are to be known:

  • You have a fever, sore throat and difficulty swallowing. You may be suffering from angina.
  • A quick diagnostic test of angina (TDR) simple, immediate and free can allow your doctor to identify strep bacterial angina.
  • Angina does not require antibiotic treatment unless it is strep bacterial angina.

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