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Health Information For Teens
Tonsillitis (pronounced: tahn-suh-LYE-tus) is an infection of the tonsils caused by viruses or some types of bacteria.
Tonsils are lumps of tissue on both sides of the back of the throat that help the immune system protect the body from infections. But sometimes infections are too much for the tonsils to handle, and these fighters of infection become infected themselves.
Infected tonsils get swollen and red, and have a yellow or white coating. A person with tonsillitis may have a sore throat, fever, swollen glands in the neck, and trouble swallowing.
Inflamed tonsils look red and swollen, and may be covered with a yellow or whitish coating or spots. Someone with tonsillitis may have:
If you have symptoms of tonsillitis, call your doctor.
Tonsillitis is usually caused by a
Bacteria also can cause it, most commonly group A streptococcus (strep throat). Rarely, tonsillitis can be caused by something other than an infection.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine your throat and neck. Your doctor may use a soft cotton swab to gently collect a sample from your tonsils and the back of your throat for testing.
It’s important for your doctor to know if
are causing the infection. If you have strep throat, you’ll need treatment with
to kill the bacteria. This will help you feel better and prevent other problems that can come from untreated strep throat.
If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, be sure to follow the directions carefully. Finish taking all the medicine even if your symptoms go away and you feel better, or the infection could come back.
If a strep test comes back negative, it’s probably a virus causing the tonsillitis and antibiotics won’t help. Just like with a cold (also caused by a virus), you’ll have to take it easy for several days and let the virus run its course.
Rarely, if someone gets tonsillitis a lot, the doctor or an otolaryngologist (pronounced: oh-toe-lar-un-GA-luh-jist, a doctor who specializes in ear, nose, and throat problems) may recommend a tonsillectomy (pronounced: tahn-suh-LEK-tuh-mee). This is a surgery to remove the tonsils. Tonsillectomy used to be a common procedure, but now experts recommend watching and waiting because large tonsils often shrink on their own over time.
Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve any pain or discomfort. (Don’t take aspirin or other products that contain aspirin, though, because these may put you at risk of developing Reye syndrome, an illness that can have serious complications.)
Avoid smoking or anything that will irritate your throat. It’s best to drink lots of liquids. You may prefer softer foods, like applesauce, flavored gelatin, or ice cream. If you don’t feel like eating, try drinking liquids that contain calories, such as fruit juices, milkshakes, and soups and broths.
If you’re on antibiotics, it’s usually OK to return to school 24 hours after you start taking them if your fever is gone and you feel better. If you’re still feeling weak, tired, or achy, it may be best to stay home for another day or two.
Tonsillitis is contagious. This means you can get it from someone else who has it. Sneezing and coughing can pass the tonsillitis-causing virus or bacteria from one person to the next.
To protect yourself from catching tonsillitis or to prevent passing it to somebody else:
Call your doctor right away if your condition gets worse; for example, if you have a hard time breathing or swallowing. Also talk to your doctor if your fever comes back or if you’re not feeling better in a couple of days.
Everybody’s heard of tonsils, but not everyone knows what tonsils do in the body or why they may need to be removed. Find out here.
Strep throat is a common infection that usually needs to be treated with antibiotics. Find out how to recognize the signs of strep throat and what to expect if you have it.
A peritonsillar abscess is an area of pus-filled tissue at the back of the mouth, next to one of the tonsils. Find out how it happens and what to do.
Most teens get between two and four colds each year. Read this article for the facts on colds and ways to feel better when you catch one.
Often, tonsils and adenoids are surgically removed at the same time. So, what are adenoids exactly?
The lymphatic system is an extensive drainage network thatÂ helps keep bodily fluid levels in balance and defends the body against infections.
Every year from October to May, millions of people across the United States come down with the flu. Get the facts on the flu – including how to avoid it.
Germs are tiny organisms that can cause disease – and they’re so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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