Ear Nose & Throat

Tonsillitis – Symptoms & Treatment Options

Tonsillitis and Adenoiditis are serious conditions that can lead to even more serious issues if left untreated. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of Tonsillitis and Adenoiditis and learn about the treatment options for each.

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

It is often difficult to tell the difference between tonsillitis and other throat conditions such as strep, or the common cold. Tonsillitis symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Throat pain
  • Ear pain
  • Pain with swallowing
  • Pain with jaw opening
  • Halitosis
  • Fever
  • Hot potato voice
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, talk to your doctor to determine whether you have tonsillitis and discuss treatment options.

Complications of Tonsillitis & Adenoiditis

There are several complications that can accompany Tonsillitis and Adenoiditis. Some of the most common complications include:

Treatment for Tonsillitis

Most infections are treated depending on the severity and progression of the symptoms, with a combination of antibiotics, throat irrigation if exudates (white or gray coating), and steroids. Surgical intervention is usually not undertaken when there is acute inflammation of the tonsils but if done, is called a Quinsy tonsillectomy. There is more bleeding during a Quinsy tonsillectomy because the tissues are inflamed and friable (easily fall apart).

If a patient develops a peritonsillar abscess (severe infection with pus surrounding the tonsils), this is most often incised and drains in the office using topical and injectable local pain medications. While tolerable and necessary, it can be very uncomfortable but provides significant relief within hours of the procedure.

We use a Xoran MiniScan to help diagnose and treat these conditions.

Treatment for Adenoiditis

Treatment for an infection of an adenoid infection is often concurrent with treatment of the accompanying ear or sinus infection. Antibiotics, saline or steroid nasal sprays, decongestants or antihistamine and oral steroids can all be tried.

Surgery for Tonsils & Adenoids

More often than not, adenoidectomy is done in an outpatient facility, whereas children under 3 years of age needing a tonsillectomy, most always spending the night of surgery in a hospital. Both adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy generally are 15 – 45 minute procedures, with the longer time being if combined.

Post-operative pain 3-10 days after surgery can be quite severe, as by this time all of the general anesthetic has cleared from the body, tissues start to heal and tighten, and there has been less intake of fluid. Hydration acetaminophen and NSAIDs may be used to manage pain if OK’d by surgeon.

Risks of Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy

While modern techniques of electrocautery has made this surgery very safe, there is still a small risk of post-op hemorrhage that is less than 3% even in adult patients. This can occur anytime from right after surgery to 2 weeks after surgery.

Any bleeding should be taken seriously and activities stopped. Sucking on ice or a Popsicle, or holding pressure at the site of bleeding is often helpful. If bleeding is brisk or does not completely stop in less than 5 minutes in an adult, then they should go in to the ER and notify the surgeon. For all pediatric patients, the surgeon should be notified at the onset of any bleeding. Occasionally a patient may have to be taken back to the operating room to control bleeding.