Follow-Up for a Peritonsillar Abscess
Arrange follow-up with your doctor or an ear-nose-throat specialist (otolaryngologist) after treatment for a peritonsillar abscess. Also:
- If the abscess starts to return, you may need a different antibiotic or further drainage.
- If you develop excessive bleeding or have trouble breathing or swallowing, seek medical attention immediately.
Prevention of a Peritonsillar Abscess
There is no reliable method for preventing a peritonsillar abscess other than limiting risks: Do not smoke, maintain good dental hygiene, and promptly treat oral infections.
- If you develop a peritonsillar abscess, you may possibly prevent peritonsillar cellulitis by taking an antibiotic. However, you should be closely monitored for abscess formation and may even be hospitalized.
- If you are likely to form an abscess (for example, if you have tonsillitis frequently), talk with your doctor about whether you should have your tonsils removed.
- As with any prescription, you must finish the full course of the antibiotic even if you feel better after a few days.
Outlook for a Peritonsillar Abscess
People with an uncomplicated, well-treated peritonsillar abscess usually recover fully. If you don't have chronic tonsillitis (in which your tonsils regularly become inflamed), the chance of the abscess returning is only 10%, and removing your tonsils is usually not necessary.
Most complications occur in people with diabetes, in people whose immune systems are weakened (such as those with AIDS, transplant recipients on immune-suppressing drugs, or cancer patients), or in those who don't recognize the seriousness of the illness and do not seek medical attention.
Major complications of a peritonsillar abscess include:
- Airway blockage
- Bleeding from erosion of the abscess into a major blood vessel
- Dehydration from difficulty swallowing
- Infection in the tissues beneath the breastbone
- Sepsis (bacteria in the bloodstream)