When infected, the tonsils become enlarged and red, and may have a yellow or white coating. The infection is contagious and can spread by coming in contact with the mouth, throat, or mucus of an infected person. Like tonsils, the lymph glands are part of the body’s immune system and they can become inflamed when the body is fighting an infection.
Symptoms that indicate the presence of tonsillitis in babies are:
- A sore throat in infants
- Decreased appetite
- Instances of drooling; a baby may drool more because it is hard to swallow or gulp with tonsillitis
- Fever and headache
- Ear pain and malaise
- Bad breath
- Snoring or breathing through the mouth while sleeping
In case tonsillitis is caused by a virus, no specialised medicine is needed. The infection gets fought off by the body’s own immune system. If the infection is caused by bacteria, then antibiotics must be administered to regain health.
However, if the infant is suffering from tonsillitis repeatedly and periodically, then the doctor may suggest carrying out a tonsillectomy operation to remove the tonsils.
Some simple things that can be done to ensure comfort to the affected individual are:
- Serve liquid foods like soups, milk, and water, as chewing and swallowing solid food items during tonsillitis may be hard
- Administer lots of fluids and gets plenty of rest, and take his or her temperature regularly
- Pain killers can be administered under medical supervision for relieving throat pain; do not give aspirin to your child though
- Keep the infant who has contracted the infection away from other family members, to avoid spread of the disease
- Also, strictly separate the baby’s drinking glasses/sippers and eating utensils separately
- Place a comfortably warm hot-water bottle or compress in the neck region
- Keep cigarette smoke and other air pollutants away from your child, as it may further irritate the already sore throat
Often mild in intensity, tonsillitis can in some cases become severe when the infection spreads to the ears. Ears can become infected if the bacteria spread to the inner ear and ear drum. If the infection is severe, without proper treatment, pressure may build up in the child’s eardrum and eventually cause it to burst.
In yet another extreme situation, tonsillitis can progress and form an abscess (a collection of pus) between the tonsils and the wall of the throat. This is called quinsy. And a medical practitioner’s advice must be sought at the earliest to stop the infection from developing and reaching some critical levels.