What is Tonsilitis? Edit

Tonsils are the two lymph nodes located on each side of the back of your throat. They function as a defense mechanism, helping to prevent infection from entering the rest of your body. When the tonsils themselves become infected, the condition is called tonsillitis. Tonsillitis is most common with children and can happen occasionally or can be a recurring disease. Two masses of tissues called tonsils act as filters and trap germs and bacteria that would otherwise pass through a human airway and cause infection. Tonsils also produce antibodies that help with the infection. With all the germs and bacteria, the tonsils sometimes get infected and become inflamed, this is a condition known as Tonsillitis.

Blausen 0860 Tonsils&Throat Anatomy

Illustration comparing normal tonsil anatomy and tonsillitis

How does Tonsilitis Affect the Lymphatic System? Edit

The lymphatic system is an extensive drainage network that helps maintain balance in body fluid levels and defend the body against infections. The Lymphatic system's purpose is to collect extra lymph fluid from body tissues and return it to the blood. This is very essential because proteins, water and other substances are always leaking out of the blood capillaries into surrounding body tissues. If the Lymphatic system didn't able to break up all this excess fluid, the Lymph fluid would build up in the body's tissue, causing inflammation. The inflammation is essentially tonsillitis (inflammation in the tonsils) and is the way that it affects the Lymphatic system. Whenever the body is fighting the inflammation from Tonsillitis, it affects the Lymphatic System as well.

Causes Edit

Tonsillitis can be caused by a wide variety of bacteria and viruses. Some causes include: Adenoviruses, influenza viruses, enteroviruses, and the herpes simplex virus. Streptococcus bacteria is a very common cause of tonsillitis. Tonsillitis caused by this bacteria is often more painful and is commonly referred to as strep throat. If left untreated, strep throat can cause great complications.                                                                                                                                

Signs and Symptoms Edit

The main symptoms of tonsilitis are; inflammation and swelling of the tonsils. Sometimes these symptoms are even severe enough to block the airways. Other symptoms include:

  • Throat pain or tenderness
  • Redness of the tonsils
  • A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
  • Painful blisters or ulcers on the throat
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing through the mouth
  • Swollen glands in the neck or jaw area
  • Fever/Chills
  • Bad breath
  • Pain in the ears or neck

And in children, some other symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Signs of tonsilitis

Diagnosis Edit

This is based on a physical examination of the throat and may include a throat culture. Throat culture consists of your doctor gently swabbing the back of your throat and send the sample to a laboratory to identify the cause of your throat infection. After the doctor takes a swab of both tonsil surfaces, he or she puts it on a sheep blood agar medium in a laboratory. Identification requires about 24 to 48 hours, but a rapid screening test will take a shorter time of 10 minutes to an hour. Newer tests identify GABHS (is the most common bacterial cause of tonsillopharyngitis) serotypes using nucleic acid (DNA) probes or polymerase chain reaction. Infection with GABHS is defined arbitrarily as the presence of less than 10 colonies of GABHS per blood agar plate, however this can be difficult to show because of the overlap of carriers and infected patients.

Throat Culture

Picture of the swabs:

Treatment Edit

Treatment for tonsilitis will depend on the cause in most cases. Often times your doctor will preform a rapid strep test or throat swab. Both of these test require gently swabbing the back of the throat close to the tonsils with a cotton swab. Then follows a lab test which will detect a bacterial infection. Although, viral infections will not show on the test, but often assumed if the bacteria is negative. In some lucky cases, physical findings are convincing enough to diagnose a probable bacterial infection and in these cases antibiotics may be prescribed without performing a rapid strep test. If bacteria is found, treatment will consist of antibiotics to cure the infection. In some cases, antibiotics can be given as a single shot per day or even 10 days by mouth. If the Tonsillitis is classified as a group a case, then antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin would be good to take. When it is caused by a virus, the antibiotics will help and you will start to feel better and less inflamed in a week, but you may continue to feel the symptoms another week or so after.

Treatments to reduce the discomfort from tonsillitis include: 1. Pain relief, anti-inflammatory, fever reducing medications 2. Sore throat relief (warm salt water gargle, lozenges, dissolved aspirin gargle and warm/hot liquids

Prevention Edit

Tonsillitis is often very contagious, and is very important to take standard precautions such as washing hands often and avoiding as much contact with someone who has it. If someone is experiencing repeated tonsillitis, a tonsillectomy may be recommended. A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure upon which one’s tonsils are removed which will end tonsillitis infections. Removing the tonsils does not seem to yield any consequences, that is, it does not increase the body’s susceptibility to other infections. However, if a child is experiencing recurrent tonsillitis, it may be best not to risk the surgery and continue to use antibiotics to clear it as tonsillitis becomes less common as children age.