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Oct 29, 2009

Healthy Living says “aah” to tonsillitis

Story PictureTonsillitis is an infection of the glands of the throat. It can be caused by a virus or bacteria. In Healthy Living this week we interview a specialist who identifies the symptoms of this malady and will guide you with the appropriate treatment.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
The tonsils are small balls of tissue on both sides of the throat, above and behind the tongue. Tonsillitis is the infection of inflammation of the tonsils. Most people have suffered from tonsillitis at some point. Dr. Adelita Zaiden is an ear, nose and throat specialist; she helps us to understand the symptoms, causes and treatment of tonsillitis. But first she explains the role the tonsils play in our body.

Dr. Adelita Zaiden, Ear Nose and Throat Specialist
“The tonsil is like a fishnet. That means every type of infection that comes through the mouth the tonsils is there to create like a protection so the infection doesn’t go any further. Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsil itself. You have to understand that are two pairs or sets of tonsils; the palatine tonsils and the lingual tonsils. When we talk about tonsillitis it’s mostly the palatine that you can see visually when you open your mouth.”

This inflammation or infection of the tonsils is most often caused by a virus.

Dr. Adelita Zaiden
“Bacterial infection, viral infection, and idiopathic that you don’t know really know the cause sometimes. In bacterial we have the typical strep throat due to the streptococcal group A, emoletic bacteria and the emophulous influenza the one that causes the seasonal flu can also give you a tonsillitis.”

Diphtheria can also cause tonsillitis. It is contagious as it can spread by close contact with an infected person as it passes through the air. Infection may occur after breathing in the droplets. The symptoms though are dependent on the severity of each case whether it is acute, sub-acute or chronic tonsillitis.

Dr. Adelita Zaiden
“In the acute stage you start with a sore throat, mild to moderate fever, the tonsils would be slightly enlarged, you’d see like exudate in the tonsils when you review the patient. That’s the acute stage. That you would usually control with pain medications. If it’s a strep infection you use penicillin. In the sub-acute phase it usually lasts from three weeks to three months. That means you won’t be having tonsillitis the entire three weeks to three months but you’ll have like intermittent. You’d have the same enlarged tonsils but you won’t have that kind of exudates. And then you have the chronic tonsillitis which is the large tonsils completely like you open the patient’s mouth and the tonsils is practically covering the patient’s airway. That’s what you usually call hypertrophic tonsils also. You won’t be having fever in that stage. You can have like a mild sore throat like the last three days. You don’t need antibiotics for that phase. Usually in that chronic tonsillitis the indication is for a tonsillectomy.”

Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. This form of treatment for tonsillitis is only advised when the case is severe.

Dr. Adelita Zaiden
“If a person presents more than six episodes in one year of acute tonsillitis. That’s an indication for tonsillectomy. If in the period of three to four years the person has more than four to five infections, another indication for tonsillectomy. Another one is sleep apnea especially in children and hypertrophic tonsils in adults. But I have to clarify that tonsillectomy is not for every patient because children below the age of five, you should consider if you want to get a tonsillectomy done and in adults above the age of thirty-two to thirty-five it is contraindicated a tonsillectomy.”

In the case of sleep apnea, the tonsils may be removed for adults. Diagnosis of tonsillitis is done by an examination by the doctor and may include some lab tests. Be sure to visit the doctor if you experience any of the following common symptoms associated with tonsillitis: Throat pain or tenderness, redness of the tonsils, a white or yellow coating on the tonsils, painful blisters or ulcers on the throat, hoarseness or loss of voice, headache, loss of appetite, ear pain, difficulty swallowing or breathing through the mouth, swollen glands in the neck or jaw area, fever, chills, bad breath.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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