Peritonsillar Abscess

What is Periltonsillar Abscess?

This is often a prolongation of tonsillitis. This means that a marked degree of infection occurs, so that an abscess develops between the tonsil itself and the side wall of the pharynx. Because most sore throats are promptly treated these days periltonsillar abscesses are now rarely seen.

Peritonsillar Abscess Symptoms

It is usually on one side only, but the tonsil area will suddenly swell more severely on the affected side. That part becomes exquisitely tender and the temperature may suddenly increase further, the glands swell further, and the feeling of malaise and discomfort increases, particularly on the affected side.

Often inspection will indicate that the affected side is far more infected than the opposite side. Sometimes the abscess will suddenly burst of its own accord and foul smelling pus will discharge. Immediately after this happens relief is gained. The temperature soon falls and the patient feels much better, often within hours.

Peritonsillar Abscess Treatment

The doctor will give antibiotics, and prescribe therapy much the same as indicated for tonsillitis, but the abscess may have to be incised, artificially making an escape route for the pus. The same rapid relief is obtained. Antibiotic therapy and general measures are continued for some days until a complete cure has been achieved.

Parents often inquire about the need for tonsillectomy with tonsillar infections. This is not carried out nearly as often as in previous years, and doctors now have clear-cut reasons for the operation. Here are the main ones why your child might need this operation:

  1. If the tonsils are very large and make normal breathing difficult, especially if they are infected, then they may have to be removed.
  2. Recurring bouts of acute tonsillitis that require antibiotics may need surgery. This may happen if the child has three attacks for two successive years.
  3. Some children are allergic to the antibiotics best suited to them when they are ill. In this case, surgery may be recommended. However, today there are usually several antibiotics the doctor may use with equal success in treatment.
  4. Some children run high fevers with tonsillitis, even to the point of having convulsions each time the temperature rises. Doctors may advise the operation in these cases to avoid the risk of brain damage.
  5. Sometimes the tonsils produce speech difficulties, and in these cases they may be better removed.
  6. Persisting sore throats that, despite treatment, still remain sore, sometimes benefit from tonsillectomy. However, in the total picture, the number of cases requiring surgery is quite small in comparison to days gone by. The vast majority of children have fewer attacks as they become older, and surgery is seldom needed.

If the infection is severe and definitely recurring and is obviously having an adverse effect on the child, then the ear, nose and throat surgeon may remove them, but only after careful appraisal of all the evidence. The tonsils exert a protective function on the system, for they are part of the body’s immune system, and produce special cells. There is some evidence to suggest that the raw surface left after their removal may allow other less attractive germs and viruses into the system. So, if for no other reason, as a cover, they may play a beneficial role. It is recommended that you do not consistently harass your doctor to have your child’s tonsils removed merely because you had yours out after one or two sore throats twenty or thirty years ago. Times have changed.