Tonsillitis

The tonsils are part of a group of lymphoid tissues (like the glands in your neck) that help to fight off infection from germs that are breathed in or swallowed. Tonsillitis happens with infection of the tonsils, and can be subdivided into acute and chronic/recurrent depending on the duration and frequency of infections. Sore throats are a common presenting complaint in children. The majority of these sore throats are of viral origin. Bacterial infections are less common.

Acute tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils characterised by pain in the throat, difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite and fever. The tonsils become enlarged, red and may have pus spots.

Treatment includes analgesics, adequate hydration and oral hygiene. If the infection is bacterial, antibiotics will also be required. Viral infections do not require antibiotics.

If the child has recurrent/chronic tonsillitis, you may consult the paediatric ENT surgeon to discuss other options. If the sore throats are due to acute tonsillitis, episodes are disabling and prevent normal functioning and the child has had multiple such episodes in the last few years, a tonsillectomy may be recommended.

It is important to realise that the operation prevents tonsillitis, but sore throats, such as those that happen with a common cold, may still happen.

Sometimes, a tonsillectomy may also be required if the tonsils are greatly increased in size and are causing snoring or difficulty in breathing resulting in obstructive sleep apnoea hypopnoea syndrome.

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