Learning about tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is a bacterial infection that affects the tonsils, two flaps of skin in the back of the throat. While it can affect people of any age, tonsillitis is generally seen in children, and can be highly contagious. It is often very painful and can cause a child to be home for more than a week at a time. Luckily, tonsillitis is treatable, and with antibiotics, clears up very easily. Recurrent tonsillitis may require the tonsils to be taken out, which then removes the problem completely.
What are the types of tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis is caused by the streptococcus bacteria, which causes many different throat infections, including strep throat and scarlet fever. Tonsillitis can also be a secondary infection leading from a common cold, or an inflammation caused by another illness, such as HIV. There are several types of tonsillitis -- cryptic tonsillitis is caused by tonsils that become "pockets" for food and other bacteria, causing infection. Chronic tonsillitis is a recurrent infection that will likely lead to tonsils being taken out. Acute tonsillitis is the active infection itself.
Generally, tonsillitis begins with a very, very sore throat. Your child may complain of not being able to swallow well. Upon further examination, the tonsils will be red and swollen, sometimes grossly swollen, with white patches visible on them and on the throat. There may be a fever accompanying the infection. In serious cases, a child may experience gastrointestinal symptoms as well. Other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, stiff neck and back, body aches and sore eyes may accompany tonsillitis.
It is very important to treat tonsillitis immediately before it spreads to other parts of the throat or the tonsils go septic. Tonsillitis is treated by a thorough course of antibiotics and occasionally, removal of the tonsils. If the infection is recurrent, the doctor will recommend a tonsillectomy to remove cryptic or infected tonsils. This will remove the infection altogether.
The sore throat may be treated with over the counter painkillers and gargling with salt water to take away the pain. Lots of rest and fluids will help a child get over tonsillitis quickly.