What is Tonsillitis?
Tonsils are the two pads of oval-shaped tissue (lymph nodes) located on each side at the back of the throat, and the inflammation of tonsils is tonsillitis. The tonsils are the immune system’s first defense line, making them vulnerable to infection and inflammation.
Tonsillitis can either be due to viral or bacterial infections. Tonsillitis most commonly affects children falling in the age group of 5 to 15 years but can affect all ages.
Tonsillitis can be a painful condition. In addition to prescribed medications, home remedies can help manage tonsillar pain and aid in better recovery.
What are the Symptoms of Tonsillitis?
Inflamed tonsils look swollen and reddish and may be covered with a yellow or white coating. Some of the other signs and symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Scratchy voice
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
- Bad breath
- Stomach ache
- Neck pain
- Difficult or painful swallowing
When to Visit the Doctor?
Speak to the doctor if you or your child experiences painful tonsillitis symptoms such as extreme weakness, pain while swallowing, sore throat longer than 24 to 48 hours, or sore throat with fever.
What are the Types of Tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis is of three types- acute, recurrent, and chronic.
- Acute tonsillitis. The most common type of tonsillitis is acute tonsillitis. The symptoms usually last for around three days or, at times, up to 2 weeks.
- Recurrent tonsillitis. If tonsillitis occurs several times within a year, it may be diagnosed as recurrent tonsillitis. Over some time, the infection stops responding to the antibiotics and returns frequently.
- Chronic tonsillitis. If the tonsillitis symptoms last longer than two weeks, it can lead to chronic tonsillitis. This type of tonsillitis increases the risk of tonsil stones, i.e., formations of calcified materials in the tonsils.
What are the Causes of Tonsillitis?
As mentioned before, tonsillitis is caused by viruses and bacterial infections. Streptococcus pyogenes is the most common bacterium causing strep throat. Other variants of streptococci and other bacteria also may cause inflammation of the tonsil glands.
How to Get Immediate Relief from Tonsillar Pain?
Follow these homecare treatments to recover from tonsillar pain:
- Intake of fluids. Infection can make your throat dry, making the tonsillar pain even more unbearable. Having warm liquids, such as soups, helps keep the throat hydrated.
- Saltwater gargle. Gargle a couple of times with salt water to help soothe tonsillar pain or tickling sensation in the back of the throat. Children should gargle under the supervision of an adult to avoid choking.
- Increase humidity. Dry air can further irritate a sore throat. You can also inhale steam or sit in a steamy bathroom for some time. Use a cool-air humidifier, if you have one, to ease throat discomfort caused by dry air.
- Lozenges. Throat lozenges help numb and soothe a sore throat. It can also work as a pain reliever.
- Easy to chew food. Have food that is easier to swallow till symptoms reduce.
- Rest your voice: The infection can swell the tonsils, making it difficult to speak. Straining the voice can further increase the tonsillar pain. It is advisable to avoid talking and rest the voice to recover.
Treat Fever. Tonsillitis often leads to a mild fever, which might not require treatment. However, a doctor’s consultation is essential before taking any medications to treat high fever.
What are the Treatment Options For Tonsillar Pain?
Some of the treatment options include:
- Antibiotics. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotics course if you have tonsillar pain due to bacterial infection. It is recommended to complete the course of medication to prevent the condition from aggravating or spreading to other parts of the body.
Surgery. Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils to treat recurring infections or bacterial tonsillitis, which does not respond to antibiotic treatment. The doctor may also recommend surgery if tonsillitis leads to other serious complications.
What are the Complications Related to Tonsillitis?
Frequent or chronic tonsillar pain can lead to complications such as:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. The airways get blocked and disrupt breathing during sleep.
- Tonsillar cellulitis. The bacterial infection spreads around the tonsil tissue.
- Peritonsillar abscess. Pockets filled with pus are formed, and the infection spreads beyond the tonsil.
Tonsillitis is a common condition and affects mostly children. Some of the most crucial things you need to know about tonsillar pain, right from the symptoms, types, causes, risks, and complications to diagnosis and treatment options, are mentioned above.
Tonsillitis can present itself as sore throat, fever, etc., due to a viral or bacterial infection. Several risk factors and complications, such as young age and exposure to germs, frequently lead to tonsillar pain and complications, such as cellulitis and abscess if not taken care of.
Since tonsillitis is contagious and can spread, taking preventive measures is essential. Prevention is better than cure, so practicing good hygiene habits can be beneficial.
Applying the home remedies mentioned above when having tonsillar pain can help relieve and prevent tonsillar pain. However, make sure to get in touch with your doctor before taking any medications or if your symptoms are not improving or worsening.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What are the ways to prevent tonsillitis in children?
School-age children between 5 to 15 years are frequently exposed to contagious viruses or bacteria. Therefore, it is important to follow good hygiene practices to prevent tonsillitis, such as washing hands frequently, avoid sharing food or water bottles, and avoid close contact with classmates who have respiratory infections.
- How do doctors diagnose tonsillitis?
The doctor may ask about symptoms, conduct a physical examination using a lighted instrument to see the tonsils, check for swollen lymph glands, and assess the breathing pattern. The doctor might also swab your throat. The tests will help identify the cause of the infection for an appropriate treatment recommendation.
- What are the symptoms of tonsillitis in toddlers?
If babies and toddlers suddenly start behaving fussily and simply refuse to eat or drink, it can indicate a sore throat that is causing them pain while swallowing. Other symptoms include snoring accompanied by a dry mouth and mouth odor. Decreased appetite, fatigue, and swollen glands in the neck are also common symptoms.