Tonsillitis

The tonsils are located at either side of the pharynx at the back of the mouth. They are made of a large number of infection fighting white cells, and are the main protector from infection of the throat and airways. In children they are almost invariably enlarged as children are building up their immunity to many bacteria and viruses as they develop one respiratory or throat and nose infection after another.

Infections of the tonsils themselves are relatively common, but most viral infections settle with time, and bacterial infections such as tonsillitis can be settled by appropriate antibiotics. If the tonsils become repeatedly infected they may be surgically removed. Tonsillitis is infection of the tonsils, which are modified lymph nodes that sit on either side of the throat at the back of the mouth. They intercept and destroy bacteria and viruses that enter the body, but if a tonsil is overwhelmed by these organisms tonsillitis occurs. Infection may occur at any age, but is far more common amongst children. The cause may be bacteria (eg. Streptococci, Staphylococci, Haemophilus) or viruses (eg. glandular fever) that enter through the mouth or nose.

An illustration showing health tonsils and tonsils with tonsillitis

An illustration showing health tonsils and tonsils with tonsillitis

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