Tonsils are lymph nodes which are located at the back of the throat. Generally, they play the role of preventing or fighting off infections. As one of your body’s first lines of defense, they act as filters which help trap any viruses or bacteria from entering the human body mainly through the sinuses and the mouth. Also, the tonsils stimulate the body’s immune system to generate antibodies which fight any infection that threatens the body.
However, at times, the tonsils become overwhelmed by an infection, and in turn, these infection fighters get infected themselves. When the bacteria or viruses become too much to be effectively handled by the tonsils, they become swollen and irritated. This condition is often referred to as tonsillitis.
Bacterial and viral attacks are known to be the root causes for swollen tonsils or tonsillitis. One of the most common bacteria which can cause tonsil infection is the Streptococcus while other culprits may include influenza virus, parainfluenza viruses, herpes simplex virus, adenoviruses, Epstein-Barr virus and enteroviruses.
Anyone who belongs to any age group can suffer from tonsillitis. On the other hand, it is found to be most common in children who are five to fifteen years old. Along with the swollen tonsils, individuals may also suffer from enlarged lymph nodes on the neck, pain in swallowing, sore throat, and fever. More often than not, when the tonsils become inflamed, they typically turn red and may have some white spots on their surface.
If your tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, treatment with antibiotics is highly advised in order to control the spread of the infection. However, if it is caused by a virus, usually, it will just go away on its own and the treatment will usually be focused on easing the discomfort. In severe cases, doctors may advise to do a surgery called tonsillectomy in order to remove the tonsils.