Symptoms, Pictures, Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Tonsillitis



Symptoms, Pictures, Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Tonsillitis


Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, two oval shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat — one tonsil on each side. Signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck.

Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by infection with a common virus, but bacterial infections also may cause tonsillitis. Because appropriate treatment for tonsillitis depends on the cause, it's important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis. 

Surgery to remove tonsils, once a common procedure to treat tonsillitis, is usually performed only when tonsillitis occurs frequently, doesn't respond to other treatments or causes serious complications.


What are the Symptoms of Tonsillitis?

Symptoms, Pictures, Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis most commonly affects children between preschool ages and the mid-teenage years.

Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:

1.      Red, swollen tonsils

2.      White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils

3.      Sore throat

4.      Difficult or painful swallowing

5.      Fever

6.      Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck

7.      A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice

8.      Bad breath Stomachache

9.      Neck pain or stiff neck

10.    Headache

In young children who are unable to describe how they feel, signs of tonsillitis may include:

1.      Drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing.

2.      Refusal to eat

3.      Unusual fussiness


When to meet a doctor

It's important to get an accurate diagnosis if your child has symptoms that may indicate tonsillitis.

Call your doctor if your child is experiencing:

1.        A sore throat with fever

2.        A sore throat that doesn't go away within 24 to 48 hours

3.        Painful or difficult swallowing

4.        Extreme weakness, fatigue or fussiness

Acquire immediate care if your child has any of these signs:

1.        Difficulty breathing

2.        Extreme difficulty swallowing

3.        Excessive drooling

What are the Causes of Tonsillitis?

Symptoms, Pictures, Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is most often caused by common viruses, but bacterial infections also can be the cause. The most common bacterium causing tonsillitis is Streptococcus pyogenic (group A streptococcus), the bacterium that causes strep throat.

Other strains of strep and other bacteria also may cause tonsillitis.


 Why do tonsils get infected?

The tonsils are the immune system's first line of defense against bacteria and viruses that enter your mouth. This function may make the tonsils particularly vulnerable to infection and inflammation. 

However, the tonsil's immune system function declines after puberty — a factor that may account for the rare cases of tonsillitis in adults.

What are the Risk Factors for Tonsillitis? 

Symptoms, Pictures, Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Tonsillitis


Risk factors for tonsillitis include:

Young age: Tonsillitis most often affects children, and tonsillitis caused by bacteria is most common in children ages 5 to 15.

Frequent exposure to germs: School-age children are in close contact with their peers and frequently exposed to viruses or bacteria that can cause tonsillitis.



Inflammation or swelling of the tonsils from frequent or ongoing (chronic) tonsillitis can cause complications such as:

1.  Disrupted breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea)

2.  Infection that spreads deep into surrounding tissue (tonsillar cellulitis)

3.  Infection that results in a collection of pus behind a tonsil (peritonsillar abscess)


Strep Infection

If tonsillitis caused by group A streptococcus or another strain of streptococcal bacteria isn't treated or if antibiotic treatment is incomplete, your child has an increased risk of rare disorders such as:

1.  Rheumatic fever, a serious inflammatory condition that can affect the heart, joints, nervous system and skin

2.  Complications of scarlet fever, a streptococcal infection characterized by a prominent rash Inflammation of the kidney (post streptococcal glomerulonephritis)

3.  Post streptococcal reactive arthritis, a condition that causes inflammation of the joints


Prevention of Tonsillitis

Symptoms, Pictures, Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Tonsillitis

The germs that cause viral and bacterial tonsillitis are contagious. Therefore, the best prevention is to practice good hygiene.

Teach your child to:

1.  Wash his or her hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the toilet and before eating

2.  Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses, water bottles or utensils

3.  Replace his or her toothbrush after being diagnosed with tonsillitis

To help your child prevent the spread of a bacterial or viral infection to others:

1.  Keep your child at home when he or she is ill

2.  Ask your doctor when it's all right for your child to return to school

3.  Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue or, when necessary, into his or her elbow

4.  Teach your child to wash his or her hands after sneezing or coughing

Home remedies

If you have a virus, antibiotics won't help, and your body will fight the infection on its own. In the meantime, you can try some home remedies:

·   Get lots of rest

·   Drink warm or very cold fluids to help with throat pain

·   Eat smooth foods, such as flavored gelatins, ice cream, and applesauce

·   Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in your room

·   Gargle with warm salt water

·   Suck on lozenges with benzocaine or other medications to numb your  throat

·  Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen


Tonsillectomy surgery

Tonsils are an important part of your immune system, so your doctor will try tohelp you keep them. But if your tonsillitis keeps coming back or won’t go away, or if swollen tonsils make it hard for you to breathe or eat, you might need to have your tonsils taken out. This surgery is called tonsillectomy.

Tonsillectomy used to be a very common treatment. But now, doctors only recommend it if tonsillitis keeps coming back. That means you or your child has tonsillitis more than seven times in one year, more than four or five times a year for the past two years, or more than three times a year for the past three years.

Usually, your doctor uses a sharp tool called a scalpel to take out your tonsils. But other options are available, including lasers, radio waves, ultrasonic energy, or electrocautery to remove enlarged tonsils.

Discuss your options with your doctor to decide the best treatment for you.

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