|Tonsil Infection (Tonsillitis)
Tonsils are those fleshy clusters of soft tissues heaped behind and above your tongue on both sides of the throat. The tissues and cells covering the tonsils (lymph nodes) function to fight infection by trapping microorganisms before they cause infections in the throat, mouth and sinuses. There are strong antibodies in your tonsil tissues that fight the spread of germs. However, when your tonsils become inflamed or irritated, you have tonsillitis.
Tonsillitis (pronounced ton-sil-lie-tiss) is an inflammatory condition of the tonsils due to bacteria, allergies or respiratory problems. When inflamed, tonsils become red and swollen with a grayish or yellowish coating on its surface.
Tonsillitis usually begins with a sudden sore throat followed by pain when swallowing. Tonsillitis causes tonsils and throat tissues to swell obstructing air from passing in and out of the respiratory system.
In most cases tonsillitis reoccurs and may require your doctor to perform a tonsillectomy (surgical removal of the tonsils). If performed by a non-qualified surgeon, tonsil removal may cause serious complications. If your tonsils are removed, a patient becomes less prone to other infections than s/he was before the surgery. Your bodies produce other antibodies to fight infections when your tonsils have be removed.
The general the main symptom of tonsillitis is severe pain in the anterior neck area. However, pain may vary from patient to patient due to differing severity and cause of the infection.
A patient may experience some or all of these symptom:
- Colored coatings on the tonsils, usually grayish
- Redder tonsils
- Swollen glands in the neck
- A sore throat
- Voice sound distortion
Tonsillitis is caused when bacteria or viruses invade your tonsils, causing them to swell. So the general cause of tonsillitis is a bacterial or viral invasion. Treatment options for tonsillitis depend on whether your infections is a bacteria or viral infection.
- Bacterial invasion – A common bacterium that causes tonsil infection is called streptococcus pyogene. When tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, it can be treated with antibiotics.
- Viral invasion – When viruses lodge on the surface of your tonsils, they look for ways of digging in. The soft tissues covering your tonsils become irritated and they swell. Antibiotics are not helpful if tonsillitis is virally transmitted.
|Is Tonsillitis contagious?
Yes, tonsillitis can spread from person to person. Tonsillitis often spread from one person to another when there is contact of fluids of someone who has tonsillitis.
|Who is at the greatest risk of getting Tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis is more common in pre-school and school-age children. Children spend too much time together in close contacts, especially at schools and child care centers.
Tonsils may swell and becomes exceedingly large impairing your voice sound, and are at that state called ‘hot potato' voice. This used to be the reason why doctors recommended surgical removal of tonsils (tonsillectomy).
|What are the treatment options of Tonsillitis?
Treatment options for tonsillitis depend on the cause and severity of infection. The common causes of tonsillitis are either bacteria or viral infections.
You'll need to visit your physician for diagnosis and treatment options. Your physician will perform a rapid ‘strep test' to determine whether or not your tonsillitis is caused by bacterium or a viral infection and what treatment to use.
|What else can i do for my Tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis caused by streptococcus bacteria must be treated with penicillin or other suitable antibiotics in order to prevent the development of rheumatic fever.
Although painful, there's also available a single intramuscular injection that modifies the effectiveness of penicillin in your body. This is an alternative treatment option.
If antibiotics are used appropriately according to doctor's instruction, the illness can be cured within a week. However, it may take time for tonsils and swollen glands to return to there normal condition.
|Treating Virally Transmitted Tonsillitis
Virally transmitted infections do not respond to any currently known antibiotics. If tonsillitis is caused by a virus, do not use antibiotics for any reason.
Virally transmitted tonsillitis may completely heal on its own within a week. Your body develops antibodies that fight off the infection quickly.
However, doctors often prescribe certain medication for such infections. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen is common medication prescribed for tonsillitis and other symptoms of tonsillitis such as sore throats.
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may relieve sore throat and other symptoms of tonsillitis. Aspirin is best avoided in children of any age because of the risk of Reye's syndrome.
When your tonsils are more problematic and may cause serious complications, your doctor may suggest that they be surgically removed. This procedure of removing inflamed tonsils is called tonsillectomy. Click here to learn more about tonsillectomy.