Quinsy (tonsillitis, amygdalitis, or cynanche tonsillaris; Fr. esquinancie), common inflammatory sore throat. Though called tonsillitis, the inflammation is rarely confined to the tonsils, but involves the pharynx, the soft palate, and the uvula, and sometimes extends to the root of the tongue. It commences with a feeling of dryness and discomfort about the throat, and with pain in swallowing. The mucous membrane lining the throat is reddened, and the tonsils are more or less swollen. As the disease advances, the inflamed parts, at first preternaturally dry, become covered with viscid mucus, and the distress of the patient is greatly enhanced by the efforts which he is tempted to make to remove this secretion. In many cases suppuration occurs in one or both tonsils; when this takes place those organs are often enormously swollen, and together with the obstruction of the inflamed palate may render breathing difficult and painful. In such cases the febrile reaction is strongly marked, the skin being hot, and the pulse full and frequent; the patient is unable to take nourishment, and the voice becomes thick and characteristic of the disease.
The pain, exceedingly acute when the patient attempts to swallow, or to clear his throat of the viscid matter which adheres to it, often extends to the ear, and is sometimes attended with partial deafness. The bursting of the abscess in the tonsil is at once followed by relief; the matter has a nauseous taste and often an exceedingly offensive smell. The disease, though very painful, is attended with little danger; but the inflammation may by extension involve the larynx and thus prove fatal, and cases are on record in which death has occurred from the ulceration having involved a branch of the carotid artery. - The disease requires but little treatment. Where the mucous membrane alone is involved, astringent gargles, repeated five or six times a day, usually give relief and tend to shorten the course of the inflammation. The food should be liquid (soups, beef tea, milk, &c), and should be swallowed in large mouthfuls, which give less pain in deglutition than smaller ones. If an abscess forms in either or both of the tonsils, the greatest relief is obtained from frequent inhalations of warm steam, which acts as a poultice to the inflamed parts.
As soon as the location of the abscess can be determined, it should be opened and the pus evacuated, after which there is usually no further trouble.