A Treatment Regimen for Tonsillitis and Tonsil Stones

Tonsillitis, an inflammation of the tonsils stones due to infection, affects over a million children and adults each year. The vast majority of cases occur in children between the ages of 5 and 15. Tonsillitis is a contagious disease that is spread in the same manner as a cold or flu by coming into contact with a contaminated surface area or an infected person’s germs via a sneeze or a cough.

Tonsil stones, along with the adenoids, are part of the lymphatic system and together these glands protect us from inhaled and ingested contaminants. Sometimes, however, the glands themselves become infected by viruses or bacteria.

Symptoms of Tonsillitis:

Tonsillitis can cause many of the same or similar symptoms as another ear, nose, and throat conditions (e.g. – strep throat, ear infections, the common cold, etc.). These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the tonsils or lymph nodes
  • Sudden, unexplainable ear pain
  • A sore throat with a fever of 101 or higher
  • Unexplained bouts of coughing

The vast majority of tonsillitis symptoms merely cause discomfort and the condition itself is rarely serious. Complications of bacterial tonsillitis (tonsillitis caused by bacteria) can, in some cases, give rise to more serious threats such as peritonsillar abscess, glomerulonephritis, or rheumatic fever, to name a few.

Treatment of Tonsillitis:

There is no one standard treatment for tonsil stones. Many of the measures taken during treatment will be aimed at alleviating the symptoms of discomfort such as a sore throat, headache, fever, ear pain, etc.

Whether the infection is caused by bacteria or a virus, the body’s immune system will usually rid itself of the infection within four to seven days. If the infection is bacterial in nature a 10-day course of an antibiotic such as penicillin, erythromycin, or roxithromycin may be prescribed to get rid of the infection. Because antibiotics can cause unpleasant side effects such as stomach ache, rash, or diarrhea; and because their use poses some risk of developing antibiotic resistant bacteria, they will not always be prescribed in children. Because of this potential risk, antibiotics should always be taken exactly as prescribed for the full course of treatment, regardless of how you or your child may feel

Other than antibiotic treatment, palliative measures would likely be the same for both a bacterial or viral infection, and may include the following:

  • Ensuring that children have plenty of soothing liquids and soft foods to prevent dehydration and ease swallowing
  • Using over-the-counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol (especially for children), lozenges, and oral sprays to combat a sore throat
  • Gargling with salt water (1/2 tsp salt to 8 oz water) or a mild antiseptic solution

The Use of Humidifiers or Vaporizers:

Age-related precautions to observe involve giving certain over-the-counter medications to children under the age of 16. In general, they should not be given aspirin during this time due to the possibility of contracting Reyes Syndrome, which can be fatal. Also be careful when giving children over-the-counter cold or pain-killing remedies as dosages need to be age – and sometimes weight – appropriate. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving these medications.