Tonsillitis refers to inflammation of the tonsils as a result of infection, usually viral infection. The condition is most commonly seen among children, although adults may also be affected. In some susceptible children, tonsillitis may occur every time they have an upper respiratory tract infection.
This recurrent or chronic tonsillitis may significantly impact on the child's quality of life and cause problems such as absenteeism from school.
Some of the common symptoms of tonsillitis include:
- Severe sore throat - Sore throat is an indication of infection in the upper respiratory tract in the pharynx and larynx. Sore throat due to tonsillitis is usually much more severe than that arising from a common cold.
- Pain that may be described as a stabbing pain at the back of the throat, back of the jaws and possibly also radiating up towards the ears.
- Swallowing and eating or drinking may become painful. This is called dysphagia. Smaller children, may refuse to eat due to severe pain.
- Runny nose and eyes are typical in viral infections causing tonsillitis.
- Pain from the throat may also radiate towards the head and cause headache.
- Difficulty in speaking and hoarseness of voice.
- A temperature of over 30˚ C is another common feature of tonsillitis. There may be also be chills or shivering.
- Fever is associated with weakness, dizziness, listlessness and muscle pain.
- There may be swelling of the eyes, face and neck due to edema, inflammation and swelling lymph nodes in the neck.
- On opening the mouth, the tonsils appear red, swollen and coated with white patches of pus. The whole of the back of the mouth and throat may appear red and raw. There may be difficulty in opening the mouth and bad breath due to the infection. The tongue appears coated and furry.
- In very young children, there may be stomach upset with diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.