The tonsils and adenoids are part of the lymphatic system and serve as defenders of the immune system, protecting your body by preventing germs and bacteria from entering through your mouth and nose. Occasionally, they will develop problems themselves, requiring the attention of an ENT specialist.
Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils that leads to swelling, sore throat and difficulty swallowing. It is usually the result of a viral or bacterial infection and tends to affect children more frequently than any other age group.
Symptoms & Causes
The tonsils – tissues that serve to trap germs and bacteria and prevent infection – are located in the back of the throat. Their constant exposure to germs makes them susceptible to infection themselves. Following puberty, their role as immune system defender declines significantly; this is why tonsil infections are far more common in children than adults.
Tonsillitis is the name given to a tonsil infection, swelling and inflammation of the tonsils caused by viruses, bacteria, allergies or upper respiratory disorders. In addition to red and swollen tonsils, symptoms include white or yellow patches on the tonsils, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever, tender lymph nodes, bad breath, headache and stiff neck. Younger children may be extra irritable, drool excessively and refuse to eat.
Because the streptococcus bacterium is a frequent cause of tonsillitis, doctors will usually test for strep throat when a patient is diagnosed with a tonsil infection.
How tonsillitis is treated depends on whether it has been caused by a virus or bacteria. If the infection is viral, it should clear up in a week to ten days, and home remedies should do the trick. Make sure you get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids, especially warm liquids like broth or tea with honey). To soothe your throat, gargle with warm saltwater several times a day, eat cold treats such as Popsicles and suck on lozenges or cough drops. Avoid cigarette smoke and other irritants. If a bacterial infection such as strep throat is responsible, antibiotics will be administered.
Your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) if the condition recurs frequently.
Recovering from Surgery
If surgery is required to remove the tonsils and adenoids, recovery usually takes seven to ten days. The following steps are recommended to make it as painless and smooth as possible:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat a soft diet initially.
- Increase activity slowly.
- Take pain medication as prescribed.
Keep in mind that scabs will form where the tonsils and adenoids were removed. These should fall off five to ten days after surgery. There should not be any bleeding other than a little spotting in the saliva. If bright red blood is seen, contact a physician immediately.
Call ENT Physicians & Surgeons at (603) 669-0831 for more information or to schedule an appointment.