The tonsils are lymph glands located in the throat. Inflammation of the tonsils is also referred to as tonsillitis. This condition can occur to anyone at any age, but is most common in children. Tonsillitis is typically caused by viruses or bacteria and can cause a host of other symptoms as well.
Causes and concerns
Tonsillitis occurs when the infection is transferred from person to person and is highly contagious. In most cases, tonsillitis occurs from a viral source. Bacterial tonsillitis is often caused by streptococcus bacteria (strep throat). This infection becomes a problem if left untreated, as it leads to complications.
Symptoms and signs
There are combinations of symptoms that occur with tonsillitis. The symptoms range from minor to severe, and may not all be exhibited. These signs include:
- Redness that appears on the throat and tonsils
- White patches on the tonsils
- Sore throat
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen lymph glands
- Abdominal pain
- Runny nose
- Hoarse or scratchy voice
Solutions and options
If your child displays symptoms of tonsillitis for 24-48 hours without improvement, it is important to schedule an appointment with a doctor. The doctor will conduct a physical examination to verify whether or not the child has a tonsil infection. A doctor will diagnose tonsillitis based on the following:
- Redness, swelling, discharge or swollen glands
- Inability to swallow, drooling and hoarse speech
- Results of a throat swab test
- Any abscesses or rash on the tonsils
When treating tonsillitis at home, over-the-counter medication can be taken to alleviate pain and other symptoms. Gargling warm salt water can also help ease the pain of a sore throat. Treatment of tonsillitis medically is often through the use of antibiotics, however, if it frequently recurs, surgery may be recommended. If any abscesses form on the tonsils, the doctor may perform a procedure to drain this, open the airway and prevent infection. Surgical removal of the tonsils is required when a child has reoccurring tonsil infections in a given time period.
Following a proper hygiene and care routine can help prevent tonsillitis. Your child’s hands should be washed frequently to prevent bacteria from spreading. If you know someone who has tonsillitis, it is recommended that you limit your interactions with them, as it can be spread through the air or through contact.
If your child experiences frequent problems with tonsillitis, schedule an appointment with a pediatric ENT to be evaluated. Tonsillitis can impact your quality of life, but treatment can quickly remedy these unwanted side effects.