Symptoms of Tonsillitis and Need for Tonsillectomy

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

The various symptoms associated with tonsil infection are:
• Chronic sore throat.
• Bad odor in the mouth.
• Dental malocclusion or improper alignment of teeth.
• Abscess or pus-filled sac.
• Upper airway obstruction, which causes swallowing difficulties, snoring and sleep apnea.

Infected adenoids cause:
• Breathing obstruction.
• Ear infections.
• Any other problem affecting the ear, especially the middle ear.

Tonsil Anatomy

Tonsils are glands that are situated at the back of the mouth, behind the tongue, on both sides. Tonsils are visible when we open the mouth wide. Adenoids are situated behind the soft palate (the muscular portion of the roof of the mouth located at the back). Adenoids are hidden by the soft palate and are not visible. The tonsils and adenoids are part of the lymphatic or immune system of the body, which helps the body to fight various infections and diseases.

They are most active during childhood, as children unknowingly put dirty objects or fingers into the mouth, which carries a host of bacteria and germs. Though, these glands are not able to destroy all the germs, they do guard against a host of bacteria. In doing so, they themselves get infected and hence cause cough, cold and/or sore throat. At times when these glands get severely infected, they become a problem themselves rather than protective organs. In fact, as a child grows and becomes immune to certain diseases, the utility of these glands are automatically reduced and hence may be removed as and when it causes any potential problem.

Causes leading to surgery

Tonsillitis or inflammation of the tonsils is the most common cause leading to tonsillectomy. Usually, the physician waits and monitors the tonsils before going in for the surgery. The physician may even wait up to a year or so to observe the tonsils. Tonsillectomy is opted for only when tonsillitis becomes very severe. It might interfere with the breathing when they get so enlarged that they touch each other. This is called “kissing tonsils.” Tonsillitis is also considered serious if antibiotics fail to bring any improvement or if it occurs frequently, maybe more than 5 episodes in a year or 3 or more episodes in 2 years. The infection from the tonsils may spread to the surrounding areas including the ears or nose.

The other reason leading to tonsillectomy is formation of abscesses in and around the tonsils.

Infected adenoids often affect the ear. It may cause infections in the ear or even accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. If these conditions occur frequently in children, it can lead to hearing loss. Hearing loss may in turn lead to speech difficulties. However, all such problems can be resolved by an adenoidectomy.

Get Your Tonsils Out – Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy care after surgery