If you or your child are suffering from persistent throat or neck discomfort, consider getting tested for tonsillitis by an ear, nose, and throat expert like Dr. Nancy Becker. Call her clinic for an appointment at either her Enumclaw or Bonney Lake, Washington, office. Find out if a simple treatment option is the best answer or if a tonsillectomy is required to obtain permanent relief.

Tonsilitis Q & A

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of your two tonsils at the back of your throat (one on each side). For some men and women, but especially children, these ovaline tissue pads are prone to frequent infection. Viruses or bacteria like Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) are the most common causes of tonsillitis. With a vulnerable location in your mouth, tonsils are your immune system’s front line of defense, so it’s no surprise symptoms of illness present themselves here. However, because tonsils are readily exposed to germs and lose much of their effectiveness after you reach puberty, infections are more common among kids ages 2 to 15, with the viral variety more prevalent in younger children.

What are symptoms of tonsillitis?

There are several common symptoms of tonsillitis:

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Pain on the side of your neck (lymph nodes)
  • Trouble swallowing

How is tonsillitis diagnosed?

Dr. Becker takes many steps in diagnosing tonsillitis. In addition to feeling the sides of your neck to detect swollen lymph nodes, she shines a light on the back of your throat to inspect your tonsils for swelling or a rash. She usually also swabs your throat and has a lab analyze its secretions for signs of bacterial infection. Sometimes Dr. Becker takes a sample of your blood for a count of your red and white blood cells, which helps confirm a tonsillitis diagnosis as well as its exact cause.

How is tonsillitis treated?

Appropriate tonsillitis treatment depends on the cause, so it’s important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis. There are both surgical and nonsurgical options, depending on the diagnosis. Antibiotics like penicillin are often the answer for bacterial infections, and a variety of home-care remedies can provide some relief for viral infections, but in many cases, you may require tonsillectomy surgery.

Dr. Becker usually prescribes tonsillectomy treatment when your tonsillitis is recurrent, chronic, or otherwise can’t be treated with antibiotics or other medications. She may also recommend surgery when your symptoms include trouble breathing or other complications.

How do tonsillectomies work?

Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of your tonsils. It’s usually a same-day (outpatient) procedure, which is especially convenient for children. Dr. Becker administers local or general anesthesia before making any incisions. Full recovery takes one or two weeks.

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