Tonsillitis and Your Throat
Tonsillitis is a common condition that causes a sore throat. It can affect both children and adults and can range from suffering with just a sore throat, or may include a fever and often a head cold.
What Are The Tonsils?The tonsils are small lymphatic tissue collections at the back of throat. There are two tonsils in most people, one on each side of the throat and are thought to act as a form of defence against infections of the respiratory tract as they are part of our immune system.
What Is Tonsillitis?In the medical world, any term that ends with –itis, refers to an inflammation. With tonsillitis the tonsils at the back of the throat become inflamed. This means that the tissues become red, angry looking and sore, often with some swelling.
There are three different types of tonsillitis; acute, sub-acute and chronic. With acute tonsillitis, the cause may be bacterial or viral and incurs a single event or flare up of the problem. Sub-acute means that the symptoms last longer than acute tonsillitis, but eventually clear up, usually within a month,(occasionally a little longer).
Chronic tonsillitis is more serious and can last for several months with persistent symptoms and normally has a bacterial origin.The pain can begin as a simple sore throat that is irritating to the individual. Over time this can develop into quite severe pain that makes it increasingly difficult to swallow. As the tissues swell when fighting off the inflammation and infection, the throat will narrow which makes swallowing more difficult also.
Your voice may become deeper and more gravelly and the inflammation may spread to the larynx itself meaning you have less vocal ability.
Quite often tonsillitis is accompanied by a head cold which can cause coughing making the throat pain worse, along with a runny nose, congestion and mucous build up and an increase in temperature.
As the inflammation and bacterial or viral infection attack the tissues of the tonsils and throat, it is not uncommon to find you have white patches of tissue on your tonsils.
How Is It Treated?In most cases, particularly with acute tonsillitis, there is no medical intervention needed and the symptoms can be treated at home.Sometimes it can help to gargle with a salt water solution, particularly if you have got white pus patches on the tonsils.
Drinking plenty will help to maintain hydration, but as it is difficult to swallow, you may need to take very small amounts more often.Paracetamol preparations will help to ease pain and discomfort and reduce a temperature if one is present. Likewise, throat lozenges can be useful for helping lessen discomfort.
If your symptoms persist, you may have developed a bacterial infection, in which case anti-biotic treatment will help to fight the infection; anti-biotics will not however be of any use if the tonsillitis is caused by a virus.
Will I Need Surgery?In past years, tonsillitis was commonly treated with surgical removal of the tonsils, especially if the individual is suffering from repeated bouts. This practice however is not used as often and is reserved for those with very persistent chronic tonsillitis that causes a lot of pain for the person and interferes with eating and drinking for long periods.
Tonsillitis is a common ailment that affects most people at some point in their life. In most cases it is nothing to worry about and will resolve itself as the body’s natural resources reduce the inflammation and heal the tissues.