At the back of your throat, two masses of tissue called tonsils act as filters, trapping germs that could otherwise enter your airways and cause infection. They also produce antibodies to fight infection. But sometimes the tonsils themselves become infected. Overwhelmed by bacteria or viruses, they swell and become inflamed, a condition known as tonsillitis.
Tonsillitis is common, especially in children. The condition can occur occasionally or recur frequently.
· Influenza virus
· Epstein-Barr virus
· Parainfluenza viruses
The main symptoms of tonsillitis are inflammation and swelling of the tonsils, sometimes severe enough to block the airways. Other symptoms include:
· Throat pain or tenderness
· Redness of the tonsils
· A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
· Painful blisters or ulcers on the throat
· Hoarseness or loss of voice
· Loss of appetite
· Ear pain
· Difficulty swallowing or breathing through the mouth
· Swollen glands in the neck or jaw area
· Fever, chills
In children, symptoms may also include:
Tonsils are the two lymph nodes located on each side of the back of your throat. They function as a defense mechanism. They help prevent your body from infection. When the tonsils become infected, the condition is called tonsillitis.
Tonsillitis can occur at any age and is a common childhood infection. It is most often diagnosed in children from preschool age through their midteens. Symptoms include a sore throat, swollen tonsils, and fever.
This condition is contagious and can be caused by a variety of common viruses and bacteria, such as streptococcal bacteria, which causes strep throat. Tonsillitis caused by strep throat can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Tonsillitis is easily diagnosed. Symptoms usually go away within seven to 10 days.
Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils. It's usually caused by a viral infection or, less commonly, a bacterial infection.
Tonsillitis is a common condition in children, teenagers and young adults.
The symptoms of tonsillitis include:
Symptoms usually pass within three to four days.
When to see your GP
Tonsillitis isn't usually a serious condition. You only need to see your GP if symptoms:
Your GP will examine your throat and ask you some questions about your symptoms. If necessary, a throat swab can be taken to confirm the diagnosis. The results usually take a few days to return.
If your tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, they may prescribeantibiotics. Typical signs of a bacterial infection include white pus-filled spots on the tonsils, no cough and swollen or tender lymph glands.
The tonsils are two small glands that sit on either side of the throat. In young children, they help to fight germs and act as a barrier against infection.
When the tonsils become infected, they isolate the infection and stop it spreading further into the body.
As a child's immune system develops and gets stronger, the tonsils become less important and usually shrink. In most people, the body is able to fight infection without the tonsils.
Removal of the tonsils is usually only recommended if they're causing problems, such as severe or repeated episodes of tonsillitis (see below).
What causes tonsillitis?
Some cases can also be caused by a bacterial infection, typically a strain of bacteria called group A streptococcus bacteria.
These types of infections spread easily, so it's important to try to avoid passing the infection on to others by:
Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a viral infection.
Viruses known to cause tonsillitis include:
In rare cases, tonsillitis can also be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever.
If this is the case, you'll probably feel very ill. You'll have a sore throat and the lymph glands in your throat may be swollen. You may also have a fever and feel very tired.
Bacterial tonsillitis can be caused by a number of different bacteria, but it's usually due to group A streptococcus bacteria.
In the past, serious bacterial infections, such as diphtheria and rheumatic fever, have been linked with tonsillitis. However, this is now rare, because these conditions are vaccinated against and treatment for them has greatly improved.
How tonsillitis is spread
Tonsillitis itself isn't contagious, but the infections that cause it are.
Viruses, such as those that cause colds and flu, are spread through coming into close contact with someone who's infected.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of their nose and mouth. You can become infected by breathing in the contaminated droplets. This is known as direct contact.
Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat — one tonsil on each side. Signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck.
Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by infection with a common virus, but bacterial infections also may cause tonsillitis.
Because appropriate treatment for tonsillitis depends on the cause, it's important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis. Surgery to remove tonsils, once a common procedure to treat tonsillitis, is usually performed only when bacterial tonsillitis occurs frequently, doesn't respond to other treatments or causes serious complications.
Tonsillitis most commonly affects children between preschool ages and the mid-teenage years. Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:
· Red, swollen tonsils
· White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils
· Sore throat
· Difficult or painful swallowing
· Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
· A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
· Bad breath
· Stomachache, particularly in younger children
· Stiff neck
In young children who are unable to describe how they feel, signs of tonsillitis may include:
· Drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing
· Refusal to eat
· Unusual fussiness
When to see a doctor
It's important to get an accurate diagnosis if your child has symptoms that may indicate tonsillitis.
Call your doctor if your child is experiencing:
· A sore throat that doesn't go away within 24 to 48 hours
· Painful or difficult swallowing
· Extreme weakness, fatigue or fussiness
Get immediate care if your child has any of these symptoms:
· Difficulty breathing
· Extreme difficulty swallowing