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Tonsillitis is swelling of inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsils are lymph nodes located in the back of the throat and the back of the mouth. Their function is to filter out bacteria and microorganisms to help protect the body from infection. However, there are times when the tonsils become overwhelmed with a bacterial of viral infection that the tonsils themselves cause the illness they are meant to protect the body from.


Tonsillitis often comes with a severe sore throat, a fever, ear pain, difficulty swallowing, chills, headaches, tenderness of the jaw and throat, and often the loss of normal vocalization.


Tonsillitis is caused by either bacteria or a virus. The passage of the germs that cause tonsillitis are passed through numerous mechanisms, and children are especially susceptible. Children are exposed to a higher number of bacteria and viruses than adults and their immune systems are still developing.


Risk factors for tonsillitis for children are about the same as they are for the common cold in adults. Enclosed spaces with lots of germs floating through the air and on surfaces are just as likely to affect children. Adults rarely get tonsillitis. In fact, only about 78% of adults have their tonsils. Sometimes the tonsils as well as the throat and surrounding areas become infected. This is a form of tonsillitis known as pharyngitis, and is more severe than tonsillitis. Pharyngitis develops from tonsillitis.
Image: Tonsillitis


Diagnosing tonsillitis can easily be done in the physician’s office. In most cases, the physician simply needs to look at the swelling and inflammation of the throat to determine if it is tonsillitis, combined with the list of symptom complaints. When the tonsil are enlarged and visible, the physician can be sure that the patient presents with tonsillitis. The tonsils may also present with white patches which indicate a more severe infection. The lymph nodes around the jaw and neck may also be infected, presenting with swelling and tenderness to the touch. A swab may be taken to determine if the patient is infected with streptococcus, which is the most severe and dangerous form of tonsillitis.


Tonsillitis can lead to other health complications including but not necessarily limited to blocked airway from swelling, Rheumatic fever, cardiac disorders, abscess in the throat, kidney failure, dehydration, and post streptococcal glomerulonephritis. These can be very serious complications and thus a physician should be seen at the onset of tonsillitis.


Tonsillitis is typically treated with antibiotics to rid the body of infection. Rest, fluids, and fever reducers are also prescribed. Warm of cold bland fluids and the help of lozenges may help the patient feel more comfortable. Some physicians will treat all cases of tonsillitis with antibiotics while other will only treat known bacteria and viruses with antibiotics. In some cases, the tonsillitis does not respond to medication and then a tonsillectomy is recommended. A tonsillectomy is the removal of the tonsils. A tonsillectomy may also be recommended if the tonsillitis is very severe and presents dangers of inflicting other complications. If tonsillitis is recurring, most physicians recommend a tonsillectomy.
Inflammation of the tonsils
Image: Inflammation of the tonsils

It is important to follow the physician’s recommendations carefully. Never use aspirin in children with a viral infection as this can lead to Reye’s syndrome. The patient should kept as comfortable as possible and plenty of rest is required to allow the body to fight off the infection. Soft foods like yogurt, ice cream, and Jell-o may be all that is tolerated in the early stages of tonsillitis. A lack of appetite is normal.

Tonsillitis is contagious, at least the germs that cause tonsillitis are, and children with signs of tonsillitis should be kept home from school or day care to avoid the spread of the bacteria or virus. Never stop an antibiotic treatment when the symptoms disappear. A full round of antibiotics must be taken to ensure that the bacteria is gone. Stopping antibiotics too early may result in the return of the tonsillitis, which may also return in a more aggressive and severe form. If the patient has been diagnosed with streptococcus tonsillitis and begins to show signs of infection elsewhere in the body, contact the physician immediately as this may be the signs of a related infection known as Streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
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Medication commonly used for these disease:

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