Tonsillitis

Dr. Robert A. Ehrhard, MD

Otolaryngology located in Jasper, IN

Tonsillitis is a frequently occurring infection that’s particularly common in children and can be painful and distressing. If you or your child’s tonsils are causing problems, Dr. Robert A. Ehrhard, MD, is an experienced ear, nose, and, throat doctor who can provide effective treatment solutions. He’s been helping children and adults in Jasper, Indiana, affected by tonsillitis for 15 years. Call Dr. Ehrhard’s office or schedule an appointment online today if you or a loved one has tonsil pain and inflammation.

Tonsillitis Q & A

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is an infection in the tonsils, two tissue masses in the back of the throat. Normally the tonsils act as filters to prevent germs from entering the throat and produce antibodies to fight off infection.

Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils are overwhelmed with viruses or bacteria and become infected themselves, causing inflammation and swelling.

What causes tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is commonly caused by Streptococcus (strep) bacteria, but may also result from a number of different viral infections, including:

  • Adenoviruses
  • Influenza virus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Parainfluenza viruses
  • Enteroviruses
  • Herpes simplex virus

Tonsillitis may frequently recur in some children, and tonsils can become chronically swollen and sore.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

The most obvious symptoms of tonsillitis are pain and inflammation in the tonsils that cause a severe sore throat. Other symptoms include:

  • Reddened tonsils
  • Yellow or white spots on the tonsils
  • Blisters or ulcers in the throat
  • A headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ear pain and sensitivity
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Fever
  • Halitosis (bad breath)

In addition to these symptoms, children with tonsillitis may suffer from nausea or vomiting and stomach pain.

What treatments are available for tonsillitis?

Before prescribing treatment for tonsillitis, Dr. Ehrhard needs to check whether the infection is bacterial or viral. A rapid strep test or throat swab culture that takes cells from the back of the throat near the tonsils picks up bacterial infections, which antibiotics can treat.

A viral cause for the infection won’t register on the tests, but if there’s no bacterial infection present in a symptomatic patient, the cause will be viral. In this case, the body’s immune system attacks the virus and fights off the infection.

If you or your child has tonsillitis, it’s important to rest and allow your body to fight the infection. You should drink warm or ice-cold fluids to help with the pain, and eat soft foods that slide easily over the tonsils.

Try gargling with salt water, and use a humidifier to keep the air moist. Throat sweets containing benzocaine or similar anesthetics and over-the-counter pain relieving and anti-inflammatory medication can help ease the pain.

When is it necessary for tonsils to be taken out?

The tonsils play an important role in supporting the immune system, so they should be left alone unless they become chronically enlarged to a point where they’re causing breathing or swallowing difficulties, or if attacks of tonsillitis are occurring frequently.

Dr. Ehrhard can advise you whether you or your child would benefit from surgery to remove the tonsils, called a tonsillectomy.

To discuss treatment options and arrange a consultation, call the office of Dr. Robert A. Ehrhard, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.