As far as health issues go, the ones that occur in the mouth area can be particularly uncomfortable.
When the tissue at the back of your mouth becomes inflamed, you may experience symptoms of tonsillitis. When people hear tonsillitis, they may panic, thinking that they will have to have a tonsillectomy. While tonsil removal is always a possibility, there are many other treatments available. Tonsillitis is a form of pharyngitis and is most commonly caused by the bacteria that causes strep throat. Tonsillitis tends to be common among school age children in the fall and winter months. In fact, nearly 10 percent of people report symptoms of tonsillitis every 3 months. Most infections will resolve by themselves without treatment, but painful cases should be brought to your doctor quickly.
Causes of Tonsillitis
As previously mentioned, tonsillitis occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your mouth becomes inflamed. The bacteria that causes strep throat is usually the culprit, but it's important to note that most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a virus. Viruses cause up to 60 percent of tonsillitis cases, with the cold, flu, Epstein-Barr, herpes, and measles viruses potentially being the cause. HIV can also cause tonsillitis symptoms in its early stages.
There are other bacteria that may be responsible for tonsillitis, but they are less common. The risk factors for developing tonsillitis include being between the ages of 5 and 15, as well as having frequent exposure to germs.
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is an uncomfortable condition, but most people find the pain to be manageable. Common symptoms of tonsillitis include:
- Swollen tonsils
- Red tonsils
- Sore throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Pain while swallowing
- Coating on the tonsils, usually white or yellow
- Enlarged or painful lymph nodes
- Bad breath
- Stomach trouble
- Scratchy or rough speaking voice
- Stiff neck
- Overall malaise
- Runny nose
- Development of tonsil stones
Young children may also become fussy or refuse to eat when experiencing symptoms of tonsillitis.
Dealing with Tonsillitis
If strep is the cause of your tonsillitis, you will most likely be prescribed something to tackle the infection. Taking the full course of antibiotics is vital to make sure the infection goes away entirely. Viral tonsillitis will typically not be treated with a prescribed medication, but some over the counter pain relief options may help control pain and inflammation. In addition to medication, getting plenty of bedrest and consuming fluids like water or juice may help speed along the recovery process. Some other at home remedies include air humidifiers, saltwater gargles and hot teas.
If you experience frequent bouts of tonsillitis or antibiotic resistant tonsillitis, a doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy, which is removal of the tonsils. It takes a week or two to recover from a tonsillectomy, but most people recover without any complications or difficulty.