My daughter keeps having repeated bouts of tonsillitis
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.