Tonsillitis is one of the most common childhood infections. Though common, it can be very troublesome for little ones due to accompanying sore throat, fever and ear pain. Though it is painful and uncomfortable for the affected children, it is nothing to be overly concerned about if treated properly. Anybody can get tonsillitis but children are more prone to it as their immune system is not fully robust.
Let us understand more about tonsils and tonsillitis.
Tonsils are small, almond-shaped tissues at the back of your throat. They are part of our body’s immune system and first line of defense against bacteria or virus entering through the mouth.
Their function is to kill the germs which enter through the mouth and prevent us from falling sick. Sometimes, if the intruding bacteria or virus is very potent, it can infect the tonsils itself. This condition is called as Tonsillitis.
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Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils due to bacterial or viral infection. The tonsils usually swell or become reddish and are covered by whitish or yellowish matter or pus.
It is quite contagious and the infection can spread to others by the infected person through coughing, sneezing or touching.
Tonsillitis is caused by the same virus which cause common cold, flu etc. Viral tonsillitis will be usually accompanied by cold, cough etc.
However, tonsillitis can be caused by bacteria like streptococcus too.
The symptoms may seem similar to other throat infections. Hence, it is always better to consult a pediatrician to make the diagnosis.
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Your doctor will ask your child to open the mouth wide and inspect your child’s oral cavity and throat. Inflamed tonsils which is either reddish or has yellow/white patches will be clearly visible. However, it is not possible to immediately make out if the infection is due to a virus or bacteria. Your pediatrician might suggest to take a throat swab and send it to the laboratory to determine the exact culprit.
Doctors usually prescribe Acetaminophen/Paracetamol or Ibuprofen to reduce fever and pain. If the infection is due to a virus, it should go away on its own. If the infection is due to bacteria, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If your child is diagnosed with chronic tonsillitis i.e. repeated infection of tonsils each year which affects day-day life, then doctors recommend surgical removal of tonsils, also known as tonsillectomy. These days tonsillectomy is done in very rare cases and most doctors prefer to resolve it with medicines.
Though medicines like paracetamol, ibuprofen etc., are given to provide relief from tonsillitis, you can try the following home remedies for quick relief.
Ensure that your child gets enough rest. As she recovers, you can help her to get into routine activities slowly.
Keep your child hydrated. She might refuse food because of sore throat but take patience and try to give liquid foods such as tender coconut, milkshakes, smoothies etc., which are easy to swallow. Take precautions to prevent spreading of the infection. Wash your hands often. Do not let your child share her food with anyone. Keep her siblings away from her and allow her to rest.
Viral tonsillitis gets cleared on its own within a few days. However, there are possibilities of complications such as mononucleosis, rheumatic fever and quinsy arising if bacterial tonsillitis is left untreated. Hence, doctors prefer to treat bacterial tonsillitis with antibiotics.
Though the possibility of rheumatic fever and mononucleosis is rare, the most common complication from bacterial tonsillitis is quinsy or peritonsillar abscesses. This occurs when a clump of bacteria is covered by new tissue growth. The abscess usually develops on one side of the tonsil and is very painful.
Tonsillitis, no doubt makes eating a painful activity. Also, you have to take care that you don’t feed any food to your child that aggravates the condition. You can always give soft foods like rice, mashed vegetables, khichdi etc.
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Tonsillitis is one of the most common infections that affect young children. Though it is not a serious condition, it can cause complications if the infection is due to bacteria. Tonsillitis can be treated appropriately with medicines prescribed by the doctor and in very rare cases, tonsillectomy is recommended. If your child is affected with tonsillitis, ensure that she stays hydrated, takes enough rest and avoids contact with playmates and other siblings.
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