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Bacterial tonsillitis in children. We solve all your doubts


All of us have experienced this annoying clinical picture several times. Who does not remember that feeling of "swallowing pins", high fever or not being able to go to school? We are talking about what, in many latitudes, is known as “tonsillitis”, but whose scientific name is tonsillitis.

Since Guiainfantil.com We are going to explain several aspects about this disease. More specifically, we are going to look at how it affects bacterial tonsillitis in children as well as its causes and treatments.

As a question and answer, we will answer the most common doubts of parents when they return from the doctor's office after a diagnosis of bacterial tonsillitis.

1. What is bacterial tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is defined as inflammation of the palatine tonsils. This inflammation can have a viral or bacterial origin (in which case we speak of bacterial tonsillitis). The bacteria mainly involved is Streptococcus pyogenes, which is commonly known as "streptococcus”.

2. What are palatine tonsils?

Palatine tonsils are those that become inflamed during tonsillitis. They are clusters of lymphoid tissue located at the entrance to the oropharynx, on both sides of the uvula (more popularly called the uvula). Its mission is, in essence, to protect us from infections caused by external agents.

3. At what age are bacterial tonsillitis most common?

This disease mostly affects school-age children, and is more common between 5 and 15 years.

4. What are the most common symptoms of bacterial tonsillitis?

Like any infection, when tonsillitis of these characteristics occurs, it is accompanied by fever. The rise in temperature is usually marked (above 38.7º) in most cases. In turn, tonsillitis causes other symptoms such as sore throat when swallowing, headache and general malaise. Also, in pediatric age, many patients complain of abdominal pain.

It is common for the child to have no cold symptoms and, if they do, they are usually very rare. Finally, some of the lymph nodes in the neck may enlarge.

5. What is scarlet fever?

Scarlet fever is streptococcal tonsillitis, that is, it is related to streptococcal bacteria. This disease is associated with spots on the skin They manifest themselves on the face, neck, décolleté area and in the area where the arm and leg are bent. Typically, they "scrape" a bit if we touch them. Although they can be scary, the appearance of spots does not add additional gravity to a tonsillitis.

6. How is the examination for tonsillitis?

Although parents may be alert to symptoms, it is pediatricians who have to diagnose the disease. To do this, the doctor examines the child's throat with a small light and a tongue depressor for better visibility.

In case the child has tonsillitis, the pediatrician will appreciate severe redness of the pharynx and tonsils, with the appearance of medium-sized exudates, that is, with “pus plaques”. In addition, you will see the appearance of petechiae ("red spots") on the palate.

7. How is the diagnosis established?

After clinical suspicion, the process must be confirmed with a microbiological test. This can be a rapid detection test or a culture of a sample from the pharynx.

8. What is the treatment for bacterial tonsillitis?

The purpose of treating this process is to avoid the development of other secondary complications. It is usually administered penicillin orally until 10 days in total. It is important to comply with the treatment days correctly for it to be effective.

As an alternative, there is the possibility of resorting to oral amoxicillin. In patients allergic to beta-lactams, it is advisable to use oral azithromycin. In cases of digestive intolerance, this process must be treated with intramuscular injections of penicillin.

9. Can its appearance be prevented?

Bacterial tonsillitis can be contagious, although much less than a virus infection. In general, it is advisable not to take a child with bacterial tonsillitis to school until they have completed a full 24 hours of antibiotic treatment. At that point it is no longer contagious.

10. What are the complications?

Sometimes this type of tonsillitis can get complicated. One of the most frequent complications are the appearance of abscesses (collections of pus) called peritonsillar. More rarely, internal abscesses may appear in the cervical region, that is, behind the pharynx.

Two other complications to watch out for are inflammation of the glomerulus of the kidney, which causes bleeding in the urine, and rheumatic fever, which is rare today.

11. Cases in which it is necessary to operate on the child

Today there is a tendency to be conservative and there are fewer and fewer surgical interventions. This is because the tonsils are lymphoid tissue; that is, they play an important role in antimicrobial defense.

The removal of the tonsils is only considered in these cases:

- If there are local complications, of the abscess type.

- Faced with a picture of serious sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.

- In recurrent bacterial tonsillitis (7 episodes a year in the last year; or 5 a year in the last two years; or 3 a year in the last three years).

In summary: tonsil infections are very common processes, quite annoying from a clinical point of view, but that usually respond quite well to conventional antibiotic treatment. Its diagnosis is very simple and always includes the performance of microbiological tests. Complications are generally rare.

You can read more articles similar to Bacterial tonsillitis in children. We solve all your doubts, in the category of Childhood Illnesses on site.


Video: Acute Tonsillitis - causes viral, bacterial, pathophysiology, treatment, tonsillectomy (January 2022).