Tonsillitis is the inflammation of one or both tonsils, two oval pads of tissue located at each side of the throat. This sort of inflammation results from viral or bacterial infections. Viral ones are more common, especially in autumn and winter.
The main symptom of tonsillitis is sore throat. There is usually some difficulty swallowing, which leads to lack of appetite. The tonsils become swollen, enlarged and red, sometimes covered with pus, completely or in patches. In tonsillitis, it is not uncommon for the lymph nodes in the neck to become enlarged too. Other symptoms usually include fever, fatigue, runny or congested nose, headache, bad breath and sometimes bellyache.
The treatment for tonsillitis depends on the cause of the infection. Viral infections do not require specific medications and the treatment is focused on strengthening the immune system and alleviating the symptoms. Bacterial infections require treatment with antibiotics.
Surgery to remove tonsils is only required in case tonsillitis is chronic or recurring or when the infection does not respond to treatment.
Prevention of tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is caused by viruses or bacteria, and these germs are contagious, as they pass easily from one person to another, through direct or indirect contact. For example, a person carrying the virus sneezes or coughs and the tiny droplets of saliva, containing the virus, land on an object that is later touched by another person. If the person uses the same hand to touch the nose or the mouth, he or she will probably get infected too. for this reason, avoiding infected persons and washing hands as often as possible is one of the most important means of prevention of tonsillitis.
In addition, it is recommended not to share food, utensils or personal items with infected persons. Hands must be washed before meals and after handling shared objects, such as telephone receivers, door knobs and such.
Tonsillitis can also be prevented by keeping the mouth and the throat healthy. This means avoiding irritants, such as tobacco smoking and consumption of spicy, hot or very cold beverages and foods, keeping the mucous lining moist by drinking plenty of water and using humidifiers and generally by eating healthy and staying in good shape. Sometimes seasonal infections, such as common cold or flu, can be prevented by increasing the intake of vitamins, especially vitamin C, through fresh fruit and vegetables or through multivitamin supplements. Herbal teas are also very beneficial for the throat.