What is Tonsilitis?
Tonsils are two small glands on either side of the throat. In children they help fight off germs acting as a barrier for infections. When tonsils get infected, they isolate the infection from the rest of the body. As children grow and develop their immune system, tonsil gradually become less important.
Tonsilitis is inflammation of the tonsil glands. It is usually caused due to a viral infection, or less commonly due to a bacterial infection. It is most common in children, teenagers and young adults.
Tonsilitis may present as an acute or chronic condition and can be passed on from person to person. While it isn't usually serious, if left untreated it could lead to more serious complications.
With tonsilitis, tonsils become red and swollen, and the throat is usually very painful making swallowing difficult.
Common symptoms include;
- Sore throat
- High temp
- Feeling sick
- Swollen and painful lymph glands in the neck
Acute tonsilitis usually gets better after three to four days, whereas chronic tonsilitis is more persistent, presenting repeatedly.
Symptoms caused by a viral infection are milder and resolve faster, as compared to bacterial infections, which often result in white pus filled spots on the tonsils, additionally causing a cough, and tender lymph glands.
Tonsils produce white blood cells to help the body fight off infections, but are vulnerable to these infections themselves.
Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a viral infection, such as influenza, rhinovirus, enterovirus or flu virus. Rarely, infection can be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which can cause glandular fever. It can also be caused by a bacterial infection, typically a Streptococcus bacteria, results in white pus filled spots on the tonsils.
The condition is felt more severely when flying West to East. The body finds it easier to adapt when it travels from East to West, as you gain time going in this direction, having a longer day than usual. It is easier to extend your day and delay sleep than to shorten the day and forcefully induce sleep.
Tonsilitis can be spread easily from person to person through direct contact, coughing or sneezing.
If symptoms associated with tonsillitis last longer than four days and don’t show signs of improvement or is extremely severe causing difficulty in eating and breathing, you should consult your GP.
You GP will examine your throat and ask questions about the symptoms you are experiencing. He will look for redness, swelling and discharge, to confirm the diagnosis.
If necessary, a throat swab is done to confirm the presence and type of bacteria or virus.
There is no specific treatment for tonsillitis, mild cases usually get better in a week without any treatment.
You can take pain killers to relieve painful symptoms such as a sore throat.
For more severe cases caused by a bacterial infection, which show no sign of easing up, or if you have a weakened immune system, we prescribe Antibiotics, such as Phenoxymethylpenicillin or Erythromycin for those who are allergic to penicillin.