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Tonsillitis (Swollen Tonsils)

  • What is tonsillitis?

    The tonsils are 2 soft tissue masses located on each side of the back of the throat. They are part of the immune system and produce antibodies to fight germs that attack the mouth. Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils are infected and swell. There are 2 types of tonsillitis:

    • Acute tonsillitis, which refers to the occasional tonsil infection
    • Recurrent tonsillitis, which refers to repeated tonsil infections
  • Viral infection is the main cause of tonsillitis. Infection with streptococcus bacterium, in a condition commonly known as strep throat or a throat infection, can also cause tonsillitis.

    • Abdominal pain (in children)
    • Difficulty and pain when swallowing
    • Fever and chills
    • Headache
    • Loss of voice
    • Sore throat
    • Swollen lymph glands at the jaws and neck
    • White spots of pus on the tonsils
  • The treatment for tonsillitis depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Your doctor will take a throat swab to check for streptococcal bacteria or a complete blood cell count to find the cause of the infection. Depending on the results of your tests, your doctor will advise a suitable treatment:

    • If it is caused by a virus, appropriate home care is sufficient to treat your condition.
    • If it is caused by a bacteria, you will be prescribed antibiotics. These may be given as an injection if there is difficulty swallowing.
    • Tonsillectomy (tonsils removal), may be recommended for children who suffer from recurrent tonsillitis and do not respond to other treatment options.

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