Tonsillitis Q&A

By design, your tonsils and adenoids fight bacteria and viruses, but all too often, they become infected and swollen, and you end up with painful tonsillitis. Mani H. Zadeh, MD, FACS, offers comprehensive care for tonsillitis. He begins with conservative medications and then creates and executes the most appropriate surgical plan to stop recurrent infections. To schedule an appointment, call the office in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, or use the online booking feature today.

What causes tonsillitis?

Your two tonsils (in the back of your throat) and adenoid tissues (high in your throat) are part of your lymph system. These tissues form a ring around your throat that traps bacteria and viruses. Then they produce antibodies to prevent and fight future infections.

Unfortunately, the tonsils and adenoids can become infected and inflamed, conditions called tonsillitis and adenoiditis, respectively. They’re also susceptible to recurrent infections and can cause chronic inflammation.

What symptoms occur due to tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis causes symptoms such as:

  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • Sore throat
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Scratchy voice
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • White patches on the tonsils
  • Earache
  • Bad breath
  • Fever

Adenoiditis often disrupts breathing and causes snoring. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids often signal an underlying infection. However, you can also have swollen tonsils as a result of allergies, exposure to irritants (smoke and pollution), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Can tonsillitis cause complications?

Chronic tonsillitis is associated with complications such as a peritonsillar abscess (a collection of pus behind the tonsils) and tonsillar cellulitis, which occurs when the infection spreads into the surrounding tissues.

If a strep infection causes tonsillitis, it can lead to rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, kidney inflammation, or reactive arthritis.

How is tonsillitis treated?

The first line of treatment typically includes medications, rest, and getting enough fluids. You may need surgery to remove your tonsils or adenoids when they’re so large they affect breathing or sleeping, or you have chronic or recurrent infections that don’t improve with medications.

Frequent infections are defined as more than five infections in one year, four per year for two years, or three episodes per year for three years. Removing your tonsils will not affect immunity or increase your risk of future infections.

What should I expect during surgery for tonsillitis?

Dr. Zadeh typically performs a tonsillectomy on an outpatient basis, with most patients going home an hour after surgery. He has extensive experience using numerous effective surgical techniques to remove tonsils, including:

  • Cold knife tonsillectomy (using a surgical knife to remove the tonsils)
  • Cautery tonsillectomy (using heat to remove the tonsils)
  • Coblation tonsillectomy (using radiofrequency energy to dissolve the tonsils)
  • Powered intracapsular tonsillectomy (leaving a thin layer of tonsil tissue)

Don’t wait to get help for a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, or other tonsillitis symptoms; call the offices of Mani H. Zadeh, MD, FACS, or request an appointment online today.