Chronic Tonsillitis

Persistent inflammation of the tonsils can cause chronic tonsillitis.

What Is Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils, two pads of tissue situated on either side of the back of the throat that act as a defence against bacteria and viruses entering the mouth. For this reason, they can become vulnerable to infection. Tonsillitis is usually caused by a virus but can also be caused by bacteria. Chronic tonsillitis occurs when symptoms persist beyond two weeks.

Tonsillitis Risk Factors

Tonsillitis is usually a childhood condition, affecting those from the age of two onwards. Children can easily fall prey to the viruses and bacteria that cause tonsillitis in school, where they are in close contact with each other.

Tonsillitis Symptoms

The signs of tonsillitis are:

  • A severely sore throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Pain in the ear
  • Fever and chills
  • Loss of voice
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck
  • Red, swollen tonsils with white patches

Tonsillitis is generally not serious, but recurrent tonsillitis or chronic tonsillitis can lead to complications including:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Disrupted breathing while asleep
  • Spread of the infection into surrounding tissue
  • Pus behind a tonsil

If the condition is not treated, your child has a higher risk of contracting rare inflammatory diseases such as rheumatic fever or post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, a disorder of the kidneys.

Tonsillitis Prevention

Good hygiene is the key to preventing tonsillitis. This includes:

  • Washing hands thoroughly, particularly before meals and after using the toilet
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue
  • Avoiding sharing food from common containers or utensils

Chronic Tonsillitis Surgery

When tonsillitis occurs frequently, a tonsillectomy (surgical removal of the tonsils) may be carried out. This might be advised when a patient has:

  • Seven or more throat infections in a year
  • Five or more serious throat infections a year over two years
  • Three or more serious throat infections over three years
  • Chronic tonsillitis

The operation is usually a day procedure with recovery expected in up to two weeks.

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