Tonsillitis – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
At the back of the mouth on each side there are two small lymphoid organs known as tonsillitis. Normally they are the size of a lima bean, but they can become very much larger, due to the presence of severe infection. Another similar structure, the lingual tonsil, is located at the back of the tongue, close to the other tonsils. Up behind the palate are two more lymphoid masses of tissue known as adenoids. All of these make a protective rich at the back of the nose and throat, whose purpose it is to prevent infection from spreading throughout the body. In as much as most germs enter the body through the mouth, nose, and throat, one can readily see the importance of these tonsils and adenoids, particularly in childhood.
In adults, the adenoids have largely disappeared, but during childhood both the tonsils and adenoids become very large, making breathing difficult and swallowing painful at times. Enlarge tonsils are more common in childhood, but they are often seen in life as well. Most often the infection is due to certain types of streptococcus germs. Enlarged adenoids cause mouth breathing, nasal speech, a chronic cough, and an alteration of the normal appearance of the child’s face. He may also have marked halitosis or bad breath.
Acute tonsillitis. Usually the attack comes on suddenly with chills, fever, headache, weakness, and pains in various parts of the body. This is followed by sore throat and difficulty in swallowing. The tonsils appear large, red, and often potted with yellowish-white pus which may be seen oozing from the rypts or cavities on the surface of the tonsils. Most cases of acute tonsillitis clear up readily under the right kind of treatment. However, the inflammation may spread to the middle ear, causing deafness, mastoiditis, and painful lymph glands in the neck.
Even more serious, the presence of certain streptococcus germs within the throat may result in rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease, and glomerulonephritis or Bright’s disease of the kidneys. Tonsillitis should always be treated seriously, for there are times when even cancer is found in tonsils that have been badly infected for years. Once the cancer has spread to the throat, it may be too late to effect to cure.
During acute stage antibiotic medicines, such as penicillin, Terramycin, or Achromycin, should be given to bring the inflammation under control. The dosage is 600,000 units of penicillin daily, or one capsule three times a day. The heating compress is very valuable in relieving the sore throat and reducing swelling and inflammation. Hot saline gargle three of four times a day will also help clear the mouth and make the patient feel more comfortable. Apply hot packs or fomentation to the neck and chest twice daily during the acute stage. Be sure to give sufficient fluids and fruit juices, particularly during the fever. For chronically enlarged tonsils and adenoids, surgery is always the method of choice, but this should never be done until the acute inflammation has subsided. It may be well to avoid surgery during the summer months when polio is more likely develop.