Under normal circumstances, as viruses and bacteria enter the body through the nose and mouth, they are filtered in the tonsils. The tonsils work by surrounding them with white blood cells which causes the body to develop a fever that can become extremely high in children. Should the infection becomes serious, the tonsils will inflame and become painful. The infection may also be present in the throat and surrounding areas, causing inflammation of the pharynx. This is the area in the back of the throat that lies between the voice box and the tonsils.
Tonsillitis may be caused by ''Group A streptococcal bacteria'', resulting in strep throat. or adenovirus.
Although tonsillitis is associated with infection, it is currently unknown whether the swelling and other symptoms are caused by the infectious agents themselves, or by the host immune response to these agents. Tonsillitis may be a result of aberrant immune responses to the normal bacterial flora of the nasopharynx.
The viruses that cause tonsillitis are often the ones that frequently affect the respiratory system or breathing. Most cases are caused by a virus and will only require treatment of sore throat remedies that can be bought over the counter. Bacteria-caused tonsillitis, however, is treated with prescribed antibiotic medication to reduce the risk for further complications. Tonsillitis most often affects children whose tonsils are responsible for fighting infections. This is also true because as we age, our tonsils become less active. Rare cases have been diagnosed with fungi or parasites being the cause. This generally takes place in persons with weakened immune systems.
There is no research to state that smoking cigarettes causes tonsillitis, however it is widely accepted that smoking weakens the immune system. Also, children and adults who live in a smoke-prone environment may be exposed to factors that could result in a tonsillectomy.
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