Tonsils: Causes and Treatments

September 6, 2019

Contrary to popular belief, tonsils are not a medical ailment but lymphatic tissue located on either side of the neck. They protect the body from viral infections and function as a defense mechanism. The condition where the tonsil is infected and damaged is called tonsillitis. Read on to know more about this medical condition and how to treat it;

What Causes Tonsillitis?

Tonsils are your first line of defense against bacterial invasions. The twin nodes are responsible for producing white blood cells. Tonsillitis, like the common cold or sore throat, can occur due to virus, bacteria, chlamydia or other organisms. This condition is transmissible. The bacterium Streptococcus is the most common agent causing what is called a strep throat. Viruses are a common cause of tonsillitis. Among several others, the Epstein-Barr virus is the most dangerous cause of tonsillitis.

Signs and Symptoms

Tonsillitis is of two types- one which is acute and the other chronic. Chronic tonsil infection is far more dangerous leading to a sore throat and neck pain. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Sore throat
  • Chest congestion
  • Phlegm and mucus accumulation
  • Scratchy voice
  • Bad breath
  • Chills and viral fever
  • Headache and earache
  • Stiff neck, pain in the jaws and throat
  • Tonsil with red, white or yellow spots

Treating Tonsillitis

A minor case of tonsillitis does not essentially require treatment, it automatically goes away after a few days. Treatments for more severe cases of tonsillitis may include a dose of antibiotics or tonsillectomy surgery.

Doctors often resort to prescribing antibiotics to fight a bacterial infection. Ensure that you complete the course of antibiotics if you want to get rid of the problem. The doctor might also ask you to get another appointment after the course is completed to check if the infection is recurrent or not.

Surgery to remove the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy. The surgery though common is only recommended to people who experience chronic or recurrent tonsillitis.

When To See A Doctor?

Normally, tonsillitis is automatically cured after 7 to 10 days. The body’s immune system is solid and powerful enough to fight the invasion. In case the patient is weak, the problem might aggravate and lead to breathing problems as well. In such a case, the lymph nodes have swollen so much that the throat closes up dangerously. Call the doctor ASAP if this happens. Call for a doctor if one notices any of the following symptoms;

  • Temperature higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Muscle fatigue and weakness
  • Stiffness in the neck and jaw area
  • A sore throat that doesn’t go away even after 2 weeks.

Preventive Measures

Here are some preventive measures one can adapt to avoid any discomfort and quick recovery;

  • Be hydrated- drink plenty of fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Gargle with lukewarm salt water multiple times a day
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Use a humidifier to balance the moisture levels in the air
  • Resort to home remedies like ginger and honey.

The Bottom Line

Tonsillitis can be quite painful and uncomfortable leading to some serious medical issues if ignored. If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs, we would recommend you get the proper treatment for it asap.