My daugh­ter keeps hav­ing re­peated bouts of ton­sil­li­tis

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - KIDS’ HEALTH SPECIAL - DR NINA BYRNES drn­ina@in­de­pen­

TONSILS are lymph tis­sue lo­cated be­hind the tongue at the top of the throat. They are usu­ally vis­i­ble on an ex­am­i­na­tion of the mouth. Th­ese glands help our bod­ies fight in­fec­tion. They are ac­tive early in life and can be­come quite en­larged.

Tonsils them­selves can also be­come infected. An in­fec­tious sore throat or ton­sil­li­tis may be as­so­ci­ated with fevers, chills, mus­cle aches and pains and a gen­eral feel­ing of be­ing un­well. White spots of­ten ap­pear along with swollen tender glands in your neck. There may also be symp­toms of the com­mon cold such as a cough and runny nose.

The most com­mon cause of bac­te­rial sore throat is strep­to­coc­cus and this is some­times called “strep throat”. This is usu­ally quite ob­vi­ous on phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion. There can be swollen tonsils with large col­lec­tions of pus. There is of­ten a dis­tinc­tive smell from the breath called strep hal­i­to­sis. This kind of sore throat re­quires an­tibi­otic treat­ment. Peni­cillin in its ba­sic form is ef­fec­tive but treat­ment may be re­quired for 10 days to fully erad­i­cate the bac­te­ria.

An­tibi­otics should only be pre­scribed for bac­te­rial in­fec­tions.


Some peo­ple are prone to re­cur­rent bouts of ton­sil­li­tis. It can be frus­trat­ing if a sim­ple an­tibi­otic doesn’t solve the prob­lem, and quite wor­ry­ing when it re­oc­curs.

If re­cur­rent in­fec­tious sore throats oc­cur it is worth hav­ing blood tests and a throat swab taken. Glan­du­lar fever is a vi­ral cause of re­cur­rent sore throat that is most com­mon in chil­dren and teenagers but can oc­cur at any age. A throat swab can help iden­tify a bac­te­rial cause.

Al­ler­gies and hay fever may cause nasal con­ges­tion lead­ing to mouth breath­ing. This may lead to a dry, ir­ri­tated throat. Us­ing an­ti­his­tamines and nasal sprays may help re­lieve this and are al­ways worth a try. Sim­ple painkillers, gar­gling with salt and wa­ter, and drink­ing warm drinks or eat­ing cool­ing foods such as yo­ghurt and ice pops, may ease the pain of a sore throat.

Ade­noids, like tonsils, help our bod-

My 11-year-old daugh­ter has had re­peated bouts of ton­sil­li­tis since she was quite small and has missed a con­sid­er­able amount of school as a re­sult. She’s also had to take many doses

of an­tibi­otics. Her last bout was par­tic­u­larly painful and she was in bed for a few weeks. Our GP has now re­ferred us to an ear, nose and throat spe­cial­ist and says that more than likely the con­sul­tant will rec­om­mend that my daugh­ter have her tonsils re­moved. I have read that hav­ing your tonsils out can be bad for the im­mune sys­tem and I’m also con­cerned that the op­er­a­tion will be

trau­matic for her. Might she grow out of the ton­sil­li­tis on her own? ies fight in­fec­tion. They are lo­cated be­hind the nose high at the top of the throat be­hind the nose. Un­like tonsils they are not vis­i­ble on look­ing in the mouth. They usu­ally start to shrink from about five years of age, al­most dis­ap­pear­ing by the teen years. En­larged ade­noids can cause a nasal tone to the voice. Other symp­toms of en­larged ade­noids may be mouth breath­ing, lead­ing to a dry mouth and cracked lips, along with snor­ing, noisy breath­ing or rest­less sleep. Those with large ade­noids may also get re­cur­rent ear in­fec­tions or glue ear. Large ade­noids caus­ing glue ear of­ten go hand in hand with en­larged tonsils and it worth con­sid­er­ing this as a cause of re­cur­rent in­fec­tion also.

If symp­toms are re­cur­rent or not set­tling, or if there is as­so­ci­ated sleep ap­noea the Ear, Nose and Throat spe­cial­ist may rec­om­mend re­moval of them along with tonsils.


If surgery is rec­om­mended the sur­geon will talk you through all the ben­e­fits and risks of the pro­ce­dure. It is nor­mally a fairly straight­for­ward op­er­a­tion that re­quires a day or so in hos­pi­tal. It does re­quire a gen­eral anaes­thetic and as with any op­er­a­tion there is a risk of in­fec­tion, bleed­ing or com­pli­ca­tions with anaes­thetic.

Hav­ing tonsils re­moved will not dam­age the im­mune sys­tem. The tonsils are only two of mul­ti­ple lymph glands we have in the body and we func­tion fine with­out them. Your daugh­ter’s im­mune sys­tem will still be strong and fight off in­fec­tion. Her health may im­prove as she will no longer suf­fer from re­cur­rent throat in­fec­tions.

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