Tonsillitis develops once the tonsils on each side of the back part of the throat are infected. The condition can occur at any age and is quite common among children from preschool up to the teenage years.
Causes of tonsillitis
Always bear in mind that your tonsils function as the initial line of defense against illnesses and they produce white blood cells to fight off any infection. The tonsils fight viruses and bacteria that enter via the mouth, but are also susceptible to infection. Tonsillitis can be caused by a virus such as the common cold or even by a bacterial infection such as strep throat.
Symptoms of tonsillitis
There are many symptoms of tonsillitis but you will not have them all. The common symptoms include:
- A sore throat
- Scratchy voice
- Pain or difficulty with swallowing
- Bad breath
- Stiff neck
- Stomach aches
- Neck and jaw tenderness
- Tonsils appear swollen and red in color
- Tonsils have white or yellow-colored spots
Among young children, there is also poor appetite, increased irritability and excessive drooling. It is important to seek immediate medical care if the child has problems breathing since the inflamed tonsils can block the airway.
With a physical examination of the throat and a throat culture, your doctor can come up with a diagnosis. When taking a sample for the throat culture, the doctor will swab gently the back of the throat and send it to the laboratory to determine the cause of the infection.
How tonsillitis is treated
For mild cases of tonsillitis, it does not need treatment especially if it is caused by the cold virus. As for severe cases, it would require the following treatment options:
- Antibiotics are prescribed to fight off the bacterial infection. A full course of antibiotics must be completed. A follow-up checkup will be scheduled by your doctor to ensure that that medication given was effective.
- Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. The procedure is recommended for those who suffer from repeated tonsillitis, cases that do not respond to other treatment options or those that have complications.
Home care for tonsillitis
Basic first aid can be performed at home by providing the individual with enough fluids to drink and allow enough time to rest. Allow the individual to use warm salt water as a gargle several times in a day or provide throat lozenges. Over-the-counter medications for pain such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be given.
Outlook for tonsillitis
Tonsils that are swollen can lead to breathing difficulties which can disrupt sleep. If the condition is left untreated, the infection can spread to the surrounding tissues. The symptom of the condition that is caused by a bacterial infection typically improves right after antibiotics are taken. Always bear in mind that it is considered contagious until antibiotics are given for a 24-hour period. Tonsillitis can resolve completely in a span of 7-10 days.
How to prevent tonsillitis
Take note that tonsillitis is highly contagious. If you do not want to get tonsillitis, it is best to steer clear from individuals who have active infections. Always wash hands on a regular basis.