The basics on tonsillitis

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It is a known fact that your tonsils are lymph nodes situated on each side of the back part of the throat and function as a defense mechanism to prevent infection from entering the body. Tonsillitis is a condition in which the tonsils become infected. The condition can occur to anybody and has been a common ailment among children. The symptoms of tonsillitis include a sore throat, fever and swollen tonsils. The condition can be caused by various viruses and bacteria and is considered contagious.  If the condition is left untreated especially if caused by bacteria, it can lead to certain complications.  Take note that the symptoms typically resolve within 7-10 days.

Aside from sore throat, stiff neck is also one of the symptoms of tonsillitis.

What are the causes of tonsillitis?

As the initial line of defense, the tonsils produce white blood cells to help the body fight off infection. These tonsils fight viruses and bacteria that enter the body via the mouth but they are prone to infection as well. Tonsillitis can be caused by virus such as the common cold or bacterial infection such as a strep throat.

Symptoms of tonsillitis

Tonsillitis has a variety of symptoms, but it is unlikely that the individual will experience them all. The most common symptoms include:

  • Sore throat
  • Scratchy voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Earache
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Stomach ache
  • Tonsils are red and swollen
  • Tonsils have white or yellow colored spots

Among children, you will observe poor appetite, increased irritability and excessive drooling. If the child is experiencing breathing difficulty due to the swollen tonsils that obstruct the airways, seek immediate medical care.

Diagnosing tonsillitis

A doctor will perform a physical examination of the throat and will request for a throat culture. A throat culture involves gently swabbing of the back part of the throat for a sample that is analyzed in a laboratory to determine the cause of the throat infection.

Treatment for tonsillitis

For mild cases of tonsillitis, it does not require treatment especially if caused by a virus such as a cold. For severe cases of tonsillitis, the treatment involves antibiotics to fight off the bacterial infection. Tonsillectomy is recommended for individuals who experienced repeated tonsillitis, cases that do not respond to treatments or cases that causes complications.

Mild cases of tonsillitis can be treated with basic first aid measures at home.

  • Provide the individual with plenty of fluids to drink
  • Allow the individual to rest
  • Encourage gargling with warm salt water several times in a day
  • Provide throat lozenges
  • Utilize a humidifier to help moisten the air
  • Provide over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen

Preventing tonsillitis

As a highly communicable condition, there are ways in order to minimize the risk of developing one. Initially, stay away from individuals who have active infections. Always wash hands often particularly after contact with someone who is coughing, has a sore throat or sneezing.

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