The two tonsils in the back of the throat are part of the lymph gland rings that guard the entry into the respiratory and digestive tract. Tonsils in the newborns are very small, but gradually increase and reach the maximum size when the cild is six or seven years old. After that they accumulate, but do not disappear like adenoid vegetations.
Tonsils are relatively large at the beginning of the school age, when various new microbes start to attack the respiratory system. It is believed that the tonsils do not allow lowering of the infection in the lower respiratory tract.
Tonsillitis is an acute viral or bacterial infection of the tonsils, which sometimes causes the tonsils to abnormally swell and bcome inflamed. This infection occurs mainly in school children, and occasionally in adolescents and adults (see tonsillitis).
The disease begins abruptly with the sore throat and the difficult swallowing. After a few hours the child became feverish. Painful throat irritation may cause vomiting and coughing in some children. In a very small number of cases, the child has febrile seizures (see spasms in children). Small children often complain about stomach pain. Glands on both sides of the neck and in the jaw can swell and are sensitive to the touch and can be felt as ball-like protrusions. Sometimes the swelling lasts for several weeks after the most pronounced symptoms have disappeared.
Practically every child gets tonsillitis one or more times. The number of seizures is usually reduced after the age of seven, because the body is resistant to disease then.
What to do?
Try self-help measures described in the section below. If they don’t help, and the child still has high temperature and refuses to eat, contact a doctor who will look at the tonsils for the child and determine if your child has tonsillitis.
Self-help: a child must not leave the house (but he does not have to be in bed) and must be in a warm, but not too warm room. Symptoms can usually be alleviated by child aspirin or panadoma, as well as regular fluid intake. Do not force your child to eat and drink. If your child asks for ice cream or cold pudding to cool his/hers throat, it will not harm him/her. Cooling with a fan or often wiping the face with lukewarm water also reduce the temperature. In most cases, children with tonsillitis respond quickly to such measures.
Professional help: a doctor will probably prescribe an antibiotic. Make sure that the child regularly takes the medicine. Tonsillitis will go away after a few days.
If tonsillitis occurs in severe form and very often, and it has a detrimental effect on the child’s general health condition, the only remedy is the removal of tonsils (the procedure is called tonsillectomy). This surgery was often used before, but today, doctors recommend it only in the extreme cases.