Tonsils are the two oval-shaped tissue pads at the back of your throat, which function as a mechanism to protect you from diseases. Any infection of the tonsils is referred to as ‘tonsillitis’.
You can suffer from tonsillitis at any age, but it is more commonly diagnosed in children. Tonsillitis is highly contagious.
There are two types of tonsillitis:
- Chronic tonsillitis— Longer episodes of acute tonsillitis
- Recurrent tonsillitis— Recurrent episodes of tonsillitis in a year
Tonsillitis can cause viral and bacterial infections. The ‘Streptococcus (strep) bacteria’ is a common cause. Some other causes include:
- Influenza virus
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Parainfluenza virus
- Herpes simplex virus
Since tonsillitis has various causes, symptoms too tend to differ. Some symptoms include:
- An extremely sore throat
- Painful or difficult swallowing
- Scratchy-sounding voice
- Bad breath
- Stomach aches
- Stiff neck
- Neck and jaw tenderness due to inflamed lymph nodes
- Tonsils that become swollen and red in colour
- Yellow or white spots on the tonsils
In children, symptoms such as excessive drooling, increased irritability or poor appetite are usually noticeable.
If the tonsillitis is mild, especially caused by a virus, it usually doesn’t require any treatment. More critical cases of tonsillitis might require treatments such as tonsillectomy (a surgical process used to remove the tonsils) or administration of antibiotics.
Penicillin is the most commonly administered antibiotic. Once commonly performed, tonsillectomy (surgical removal of tonsils) is now reserved for extremely critical cases.