Tonsillitis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
Tonsillitis is a condition that occurs when your tonsils, the two lymph nodes on each side of your throat become affected. Tonsillitis can occur at any age. However, children are more prone. Most cases of tonsillitis are not severe and do go away over time.
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However, there are serious cases that really can affect your long term health. With the air quality and humidity being the way it is here in the Middle East, tonsilitis can become a serious concern and one that we may want to take extra precaution and avoid.
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
Symptoms of tonsillitis include:
- a sore throat
- Difficulty or pain in the throat when swallowing food or fluids
- Change in tone of voice
- Bad breath
- Stomach aches
- Stiff neck
- Tonsils appear red or swollen
- Tonsils have white or yellow spots
Young children may also become more removed or quiet in their behaviour. They may also drool more and lose appetite quickly. When tonsillitis is well in its course, symptoms can last from 7-10 days before going away.
The best time to see a doctor is when you notice that you have had a sore throat or high fever for over two days. Do not wait longer than this period as the condition can worsen and become harder to treat.
Types of Tonsillitis
- Acute tonsillitis – This is the most common type of tonsillitis and mainly experienced by children. Its symptoms will normally last ten days at most. Acute tonsillitis is the least severe type of tonsillitis and can be treated with home treatments and proper rest. Acute tonsillitis may occur once or twice a year. Anything more may be considered as chronic or recurrent tonsillitis.
- Chronic tonsillitis – The symptoms of chronic tonsillitis are the same as acute tonsillitis. However, they last over a longer period as well as being slightly more severe. Chronic tonsillitis may also cause tonsil stones to form. Tonsil stones are formed when dead cells, saliva, and food build up in the crevices of your tonsils. In this case, the doctor will have to remove them surgically.
- Recurrent tonsillitis – Recurrent tonsillitis is just like acute tonsillitis. However, it occurs at least 5 to 7 times a year. And just like chronic tonsillitis, it needs to be surgically treated by a doctor. Tonsillectomy is the surgery that will most likely follow if anyone is diagnosed with recurrent tonsillitis, a surgical procedure where your tonsils are removed.
Causes of Tonsilitis
Your tonsils are your first line of defence from illness as they produce white blood cells that help your body to fight infections from harmful bacteria and viruses. Although your tonsils play such an important part, it too is vulnerable from becoming infected by harmful bacteria or viruses. In this case, tonsillitis occurs when you get a cold or an infection such as strep throat, another type of throat infection.
The two main causes of tonsillitis can be defined as viral tonsillitis and bacterial tonsillitis. Viral tonsillitis is caused by viral infections and is the most common cause. They can range from viruses such as common colds ranging to rhinovirus, or hepatitis B. Bacterial tonsillitis accounts for 15 to 30% of all tonsillitis cases and is caused by bacterial infections.
Most cases of tonsillitis can be treated at home. If you go to see a doctor on your condition, they will most likely prescribe you with antibiotics. However, they may not be entirely necessary if you know how to treat it. Here are a couple of things you can do at home to manage and improve your condition:
- Drink lots of fluids as well as warm drinks
- Get plenty of rest and sleep
- Use throat lozenges
- Try not to speak too much or raise your voice
- Stop smoking, especially when you feel the symptoms of tonsillitis
- Gargle saltwater
- Use an air humidifier at home and avoid going outdoors
Treatments From a Doctor
Your doctor can prescribe you antibiotics to fight the infection that is causing your tonsillitis. Although these antibiotics may help to speed up recovery and get you back to top shape faster, it does increase the risk of antibiotic resistance. This is when the body becomes immune to the effects of medication and no longer provides any benefits. Tonsillectomy is a possible treatment for people with chronic or recurrent tonsillitis.
When to see a doctor?
If you notice any of the symptoms of tonsillitis, are not recovering from home treatment, or are worried that your child might be showing signs and symptoms of tonsillitis, speak with your doctor as soon as possible as early intervention and treatment can significantly improve the condition and prevent it from getting any worse.
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