Dr Dennis Chua is an experienced ENT Specialist dealing in tonsil conditions. One common condition he encounters are patients referred to him for tonsillitis. Tonsils are 2 glands located at the back of the throat. They are part of the immune defence mechanism in patients below the age of 2. Above the age of 2, they have no function and begin to disappear till the age of 12.
Occasionally, constant stimulation like recurrent infections or allergies can result in tonsils remaining large. This can result in conditions such as tonsillitis, tonsil stones or even sleep apnoea and snoring.
Tonsil stone in the right tonsil. As tonsils have an irregular surface, it is easy for food debris to collect within the crypts of the tonsil resulting in stones.
Symptoms of tonsillitis
Sore throat is the commonest complaint. When it is more severe, there can be difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). There can be associated fever and myalgia. It is important to differentiate this from Infectious Mononucleosis which is a viral infection of the tonsils. Find out more about tonsillitis here https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tonsillitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20378479.
This patient has enlarged tonsils with recurrent tonsillitis. There is pus present in the crypts of the tonsils consistent with infection.
Fast, effective treatment of tonsillitis
- Throat gargle- medicated gargles are useful as they are anti-inflammatory and antiseptic
- Antibiotics- these may be necessary for severe infections
- Anti-inflammatory analgesia- Certain Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are useful in pain relief and decreasing inflammation
- Hydration and rest- This is perhaps the most important. When tonsillitis happens, you will need more hydration than usual. Insufficient hydration can lead to fever developing.
If you have issues with tonsillitis, consider visiting Dr. Dennis Chua.
What if my tonsillitis is taking a long time to recover?
It is important to check for other causes of tonsillitis.
- Infectious mononucleosis: This is a type of tonsillitis caused by EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) infection.
- Tumors: Occasionally tumors can develop in the tonsils. This needs to be evaluated further with either imaging scans or biopsies.
When do I need to consider a tonsillectomy?
- Recurrent/ Chronic infections
- Large tonsils that obstruct breathing especially during sleep (eg obstructive sleep apnoea)
- Asymmetrical tonsils with suspicions of tumor pathology.
Sidell, D., & Shapiro, N. L. (2012). Acute tonsillitis. Infectious disorders drug targets, 12(4), 271–276. https://doi.org/10.2174/187152612801319230
Wong Chung, J., van Benthem, P., & Blom, H. M. (2018). Tonsillotomy versus tonsillectomy in adults suffering from tonsil-related afflictions: a systematic review. Acta oto-laryngologica, 138(5), 492–501. https://doi.org/10.1080/00016489.2017.1412500