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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

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Various Conditions That Affects The Tonsil

What Are Tonsils?


Tonsils are part of the lymph node system, which aids the body's immune system and aids in the fight against infections. They can be found along both corners of the throat. Each tonsil is made up of tissue-like material in the lymph nodes that are coated by a mucus lining inside the mouth. Tonsils have different sizes depending on person to person and become larger during infections.


Where are the Tonsils located?


Tonsils are classified into three types:

  • Pharyngeal tonsils (also identified as adenoids)
  • Lingual tonsils
  • Palatine tonsils

Tonsils are the most common name for palatine tonsils. They are oval-shaped and surround small clusters of lymph cells inside the pharynx at the throat's opening on either side. Tonsils are larger when children are young, and they gradually shrink as they grow older.


What is the purpose of a Tonsil?


Even though the tonsils appear tiny, they play a vital role in our bodies. These tonsils prevent foreign bodies from entering the lungs. When air is inhaled through the nose and mouth, it contains all the bacteria and viruses in the environment; the tonsils funnel these viruses and bacteria. They also start creating antibodies and white blood cells, which are essential components of the body's defence system. As a part of the immune system, they act as the first line of defence.


Various Conditions That Affects The Tonsil


1) Tonsilitis


Tonsillitis is a swelling of the tonsils, specifically the palatine tonsils. Tonsillitis symptoms usually involve overly large tonsils, pain and difficulty swallowing, sore throat, and tenderness in lymph nodes just on the side of the neck. Tonsillitis is mostly caused by viral infections, but it can also be caused by bacterial infections. The precise reason for the condition will determine the treatment; thus, the diagnosis is important in the treatment. In the case of repeated infections that fail to respond to treatment, surgery to remove the tonsils may be required.


2) Tonsilloliths


Tonsilloliths, also known as tonsil stones, are caused by mineral deposits or calcified debris inside the corners of the tonsils. Tonsillitis symptoms usually involve:

  • Bad breath
  • Throat irritation


Typically, such patients do not experience pain. No intervention is needed if the stone is not causing any other symptoms. However, if it is interfering with the patient's life, high-salinity mouth gargles, as well as surgical removal of the tonsil stone, can be performed. They are typically found during scans for other conditions.


3) Peritonsillar Abscess


A peritonsillar abscess is an infection caused by the accumulation of pus just behind the tonsils. A peritonsillar abscess can cause fever, throat pain, difficulty in opening your mouth, and a change in the tone/depth of your voice. The patient will feel a lot of pain on one side. Aspiration pneumonia and airway obstruction are two complications of peritonsillar abscess. Bacterial infections are the most common cause of the peritonsillar abscess. The diagnosis is made by observing the symptoms and signs and then comparing them to medical imaging. The treatment will include the following:

  • Pus removal
  • Enough amounts of fluid
  • Pain medication


4) Acute Mononucleosis


The Epstein-Barr virus causes this disease, also known as the kissing disease. This infection is spread via saliva. This disease occurs a lot in adolescents and young adults. This infection can lead to fever, tonsil swelling, sore throat, as well as rashes. This condition is diagnosed based on signs, symptoms, and blood tests. Ways to treat this condition are:

  • Rest
  • Water intake
  • Painkillers

One of the complications is an enlarged spleen, which can rupture and cause a life-threatening situation.


5) Tonsillar Hypertrophy


Persistently enlarged tonsils characterize tonsillar hypertrophy. These enlarged tonsils may mean that there is an irritation or infection from factors such as air pollution or smoke. Some people's tonsils can also enlarge for unknown reasons. The symptoms are:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Snoring
  • Bad breath


The diagnosis is made based on the symptoms; quite often, throat culture tests are recommended as well. The treatment will be decided based on how severe the symptoms are. If it is not interfering with the patient's sleep, breathing, or eating, then no intervention is required. If the cause is an underlying infection, antibiotics will be prescribed, and surgery will be performed if the tonsils are causing breathing difficulties.


Tests That Can Show You If You Have A Tonsil Disease Or Not


The following tests are used to diagnose diseases affecting the tonsils:


1) Throat Swab: This test is done by taking a cotton swab and rubbing the throat and tonsils to collect a sample. It is then sent to laboratories. This test is used to identify bacteria such as streptococcus.


2) Monospot Test: A blood test used to detect specific antibodies that aid in the diagnosis of mononucleosis.


3) Epstein- Barr Virus Antibodies: If the monospot test is negative, looking for antibodies to fight them will confirm the diagnosis.



Treatment Of Conditions Related To The Tonsils

The following treatments to treat various tonsil conditions:


1) Antibiotics: Antibiotics treat diseases caused by bacterial infection, particularly streptococcal infection.


2) Tonsillectomy: This is the process of removing the tonsil. It is performed when illnesses are frequent and do not respond to other possible treatments or when there are enlarged tonsils that interfere with breathing.


3) Abscess Drainage: Abscess drainage removes pus as well as other fluid collections from abscesses. The abscess is pierced with a needle and left to drain and heal during this procedure.


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