Tonsillitis is the term given for enlarged tonsils. A pair of small tissue pads is present at the back of your throat which is nothing but tonsils. When these tonsils develop inflammation due to infection and other causes, it becomes enlarged causing difficulty in drinking and swallowing. Often bacterial and viral infection causes enlarged tonsils. The symptoms can be managed by medication and home remedies but if the problem of enlarged tonsils is a recurrent problem, surgery is done.
Enlarged tonsils are common in school going children and teenagers. Some of the signs of tonsillitis are sore throat, swelling of tonsils, difficulty in swallowing and muffed voice. You can see white or yellow layer of plague like particles on the tonsils when the mouth is opened widely. The lymph nodes of the neck region become inflamed. Mild fever and headache can also be present if the infection is severe.
Tonsillitis may be reason if the child refuses to eat and takes more than regular time for eating anything. Parents can promptly check for inflammation of tonsils or consult their doctor.
Causes Of Enlarged Tonsils :
Bacterial infection is the major cause for enlarged tonsils. It is the Strep bacteria or Streptococcus that attacks the soft mucus membrane of tonsils leading to inflammation. In rare cases virus like Epstein Barr virus or influenza virus or adenovirus can cause enlarged tonsils. For some adults HP virus can be the cause for inflammation of tonsils and throat.
Once the bacteria invade tonsils the body’s immunity triggers white blood cells in large numbers which help in fighting the bacteria. The symptoms get reduced when the entire bacteria team is destroyed by WBC and in case the bacteria outgrows in number of WBC it may lead to infection causing enlargement of tonsils. Bacteria can easily enter through your mouth through food and drinks that you eat. Children can get this infection from other infected children wherein the bacteria spread through air.
Who Are At Risk ?
Anyone can develop tonsillitis but the risk is high for young children and teenagers. Children left in child care centers are highly vulnerable to germs exposure. Severe cases of tonsillitis caused by strep bacteria can lead to rheumatic fever infecting the heart and its tissues.
Your doctor would first complete physical examination giving more attention for checking the lymph nodes of the neck for swelling. He would look into the child’s throat and listen to his breathing. If necessary he would get the throat swab of the child to test in the laboratory for presence of bacteria. Complete blood count test can be done to measure the level of blood cells.
Enlarged Tonsils Treatment :
Tonsillitis Home Remedies :
- It is very much necessary for the affected child to give complete rest.
- Parents should avoid sending him/her to school or day care once he/she has problems in throat and difficulty in eating.
- Since the child may dehydrate on such condition, give him/her plenty of fluids according to his/her like. Warm liquids and health drinks with honey can be given.
- Add one tsp of table salt to a cup of water and make your child to gargle this solution. Gargling salt water can provide enough relief and comfort to the throat. Salt is an excellent antibiotic to fight bacterial infection.
- Add enough moisture to the air by supplementing humidifier. Allow the child to take rest in the bathroom with steam.
- Give him/her plenty of lozenges which can provide soothing effect on the throat making it easy to swallow.
- Keep the home atmosphere clean and dust-free.
- If the child is above 6 years of age, you can give acetaminophen like Tylenol or Ibuprofen and similar drugs to manage body pain and fever.
Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infection. Generally penicillin is prescribed as first line treatment for enlarged tonsils. Unless the child is allergic to penicillin group of drugs it is the best medication for tonsillitis. The patient should complete the course of medication as prescribed by the doctor, even there is no symptoms. If the patient fails to take complete course his/her condition may worsen leading to complications.
Surgery is considered for treating enlarged tonsils only if the problem occurs frequently. If the person/child has several episodes of sore throat in a year then your doctor may opt for surgery.
Tonsillectomy is the procedure for removing tonsils from the throat. It is simple procedure and mostly done on outpatient basis. Nowadays many doctors are using laser therapy or electrocautering method for removing tonsils. It is easy to burn enlarged tonsils instead of removing them with the scalpel in conventional method. The patient can go home on the very same day of surgery. The patient should follow the doctor’s advice on taking medication and proper diet.
How To Prevent Tonsillitis ?
- One cannot totally prevent tonsillitis, but can take steps to manage the symptoms.
- Good hygiene should be practiced by children in school and day care centers. Instruct them not to share glasses or water bottles with other children.
- Teach them to use tissue while coughing and sneezing.
- Don’t send them to school if they are ill.