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Tonsillitis – What are Tonsils?



Tonsils are lymphoid tissue and what they do is they sit in the back of the throat and they catch certain bacteria, some viruses themselves, that can then go into the rest of the body and what they do is they act as a protective function. Now, sometimes the tonsils themselves, while catching bacteria and viruses, can get infected and that presents as a sore throat. Consequently, as the patient gets a sore throat, or your child gets a sore throat, they're going to complain about that. Now, many of these infections are viral and they'll pass by themselves. What we don't want to do is treat them as all bacterial infections, which require antibiotics. So what I would recommend you do then is you go to your pediatrician or you go to an ear, nose and throat doctor like myself. What we'll do is we'll examine your child or yourself, if in fact you have an infection and we'll do a culture. Sometimes we can do a culture right there in the office that will tell us whether or not this is a bacterial infection. But as I said, most of the time, these are viral infections that will pass. One of the concerns is that we give antibiotics unnecessarily and as you know, what happens with time is that you can develop a resistance. So once again, that is why it's important to go to your doctor and have them do culture, to see if the bacteria is growing. Now, the tonsils themselves, once they become infected will respond typically to antibiotics. Over the course of the next several days, your child or yourself will gradually get better, most of the time.

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