The tonsils are collections of lymph tissue located at the back of the mouth (palatine) and tongue (Lingual). They are composed of special cells that help fight infection. Small pits are present on the surface of the tonsil and then extend into the tonsil as spaces called tonsillar crypts.
The tonsils that typically cause tonsillitis are called the palatine tonsils.
The adenoids are a collection of tissue above the soft palate at the back of the nose.
The same type of tissue that forms the tonsils also forms the adenoids.
Tonsils and adenoids can be safely removed, as they form only a very small part of the body’s total immune system. If they are diseased, after they are removed the immune system actually functions in a more healthy way.
Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils in the mouth (the palatine tonsils). Viruses are the most common cause of tonsillitis but bacteria can also be to blame.
The symptoms of tonsillitis include sore throat, difficulty swallowing, bad breath, fever, swollen neck glands, loss of appetite, change in voice, muscle aches and fatigue. The tonsils generally become red and swollen and may have pus visible on the surface of the small pits of the tonsil.
Most people suffer from tonsillitis at some point in their lives. Young children are most commonly affected, as their immune systems are still developing.
Peritonsillar abscess (quinsy)
Very severe tonsillitis can lead to a collection of pus forming between the capsule of the tonsil and the muscle of the throat. This usually needs to be drained. Significant scar tissue can be left behind, and a small cavity can form leading to repeated episodes of abscess formation.
Tonsillectomy or Adenotonsillectomy
The decision to have surgery needs to consider a number of factors. These include:
- The frequency and severity of infections
- The history of antibiotic use and effectiveness
- The severity of symptoms
- Other complicating illnesses
- The effect on schooling or work