Tonsillitis is inflammation or infection of the tonsils. Tonsils may be infected by bacterial or viral infections. With infection they often become enlarged and may cause throat pain, ear pain, and difficulty swallowing. When tonsil infections are caused by bacteria, such as in strep throat, antibiotics are used for treatment.
A peritonsillar abscess is an accumulation of pus next to the tonsil. Peritonsillar abscesses are acutely painful, causing throat pain, ear pain, dysphagia, difficulty swallowing and and times difficulty breathing. A peritonsillar abscess may also cause difficulty speaking, referred to as a “hot potato” voice.
To examine for a peritonsillar abscess a physician will look at a patient’s mouth. One tonsil may look acutely inflamed compared to the other side. Also, the uvula may be shifted to the opposite side due to the amount of inflammation.
Treatment for a peritonsillar abscess requires drainaige of the pus. A small cut is made in the mouth next to the tonsil and the abscess cavity is opened and pus is removed.
Patients who experience frequent tonsillar infections or recurrent abscess drainage may need a tonsillectomy.
A tonsillectomy is a surgery in which the tonsils are removed and is performed in the operating room with a patient asleep. The tonsils are removed using one of many tools, including knife, bovie, microdebreeder, or coblator.
Tonsil stones are usually noticed as white spots in the back of the throat. Tonsil stones are also known as tonsoliths and are pieces of debris which accumulate in the crypts of the tonsils. Tonsil stones may cause throat irritation. Tonsil stones slowly increase in size over time and once large enough may be spit out or swallowed.
People often complain that tonsil stones have a foul smell. Because of this people may use a toothbrush or water pick to help remove tonsil stones. Tonsil stones are not related to cancer development and are not responsible for tonsillitis. Common treatments for tonsil stones include good oral hygiene, frequent mouthwashing, water pick usage, and when very bothersome, tonsillectomy.