Tonsillitis 101

Tonsillitis 101 - Tonsillitis 101

Tonsillitis. All kinds of things come to mind at the very mention of this condition strep throat, tonsillectomies...unlimited ice cream. While infection and inflammation of the tonsils occurs most commonly in children nearly all children in the United States experience at least one episode of infected or inflamed tonsils, it is also possible for an occurrence in adults as well. Here’s abrief guide to this very common condition:

What are Tonsils?

Tonsils are two glands at the back of the throat that are visible through the mouth. These glands act as a filter to trap germs and prevent them from entering your airways and causing infection and they also produce infection-fighting antibodies. The tonsils can become swollen and inflamed if overwhelmed by bacteria and viruses this is what is referred to as Tonsillitis.

How is it Caused?

The Streptococcus pyogenes (GABHS) virus, also known as Strep Throat, is responsible for most cases, with other causes including the herpes simplex virus, EpsteinBarr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, the measles virus, and bacteria.

Are there different types?

Yes. There are four types of tonsillitis, and the type determines what symptoms occur:

  • Acute: Patients have a fever, sore throat, foul breath, difficulty or pain when swallowing, and tender cervical lymph nodes. Airway obstruction due to swollen tonsils may cause mouth breathing, snoring, nocturnal breathing pauses, or sleep apnea. Lethargy and malaise are common.
  • Recurrent: This diagnosis is made when an individual has multiple episodes of acute tonsillitis in a year.
  • Chronic: Individuals often have chronic sore throat, halitosis, tonsillitis, and persistently tender cervical nodes.
  • Peritonsillar abscess: Individuals often have severe throat pain, fever, drooling, foul breath, difficulty opening the mouth, and muffled voice quality, such as the hot potato voice (as if talking with a hot potato in his or her mouth).

How is it treated?

Treatment usually involves a regimen of antibiotics, with pain control and fluid replacement playing important roles as well. In severe cases, particularly involving airway obstruction, hospitalization may be required. In chronic or recurrent cases, surgical removal of the tonsils is recommended, and a peritonsillar abscess may require more urgent treatment to drain the abscess.

If your child is experiencing throat pain, redness of the tonsils, white or yellow coating of the tonsils, blisters or ulcers on the throat, ear pain, headache, fever, or other symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible.