What is tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis refers to the inflammation of a tonsil -- the large,
fleshy, oval masses of tissue that lie in the lateral wall of the oral
pharynx on either side of the throat. These clusters of tissue contain
cells that produce antibodies that are helpful in fighting infection.
There are many possible, highly contagious bacterial and viral
causes of tonsillitis. Causes of tonsillitis include the following:
What are the symptoms
The following are the most common symptoms for tonsillitis,
however, individuals may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may
swollen, red tonsils
(often coated with a yellow, gray, or white membrane)
blisters or painful
ulcerated areas on the throat
sudden onset sore throat
pain with swallowing
loss of appetite
swollen and tender lymph
nodes in the neck or jaw area
Additional symptoms of
tonsillitis in children include:
The symptoms of tonsillitis
may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult a physician for
Can tonsillitis be
The following suggestions may help to inhibit the spread of the
contagious illnesses that are generally responsible for the spread of
Keep your (and your
child's) distance from anyone with tonsillitis or a sore throat.
Do not share utensils,
drinking glasses, toothbrushes, etc., with anyone who has tonsillitis
or a sore throat.
Wash your (and your
child's) hands frequently.
Cover your mouth when you
cough or sneeze, and teach your children to do the same.
It is also possible that
someone (especially a child) is carrying the strep bacteria (a common
cause of tonsillitis) without presenting any symptoms of the infection.
This person acts as a "carrier" and can transmit the infection
to another person.
Specific treatment will be determined by the physician(s) based
- patients age, overall health, and
- extent of the disease
- expectations for the course of the
- patients tolerance for specific
medications, procedures, or therapies
- patients (or familys) opinion or
- the cause of the infection
Tonsillitis caused by a viral infection is
treated differently than tonsillitis caused by a bacterial infection.
Generally, tonsillitis caused by a bacterial strep infection can be
successfully treated with an antibiotic medication. Viral tonsillitis is
not treated with antibiotic medications, as antibiotics are ineffective at
defeating viral infections, but may be treated with other antiviral