Brief description of the digestive system problem

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  1. Brief description of the digestive system problem

Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils, which are glands on either side of the back of the throat. The tonsils are part of the immune system, which protects and helps the body to fight infections. Tonsillitis is very common and can occur at any age. It is most common in children and young adults.

2. Associated digestive system organ(s)

The tonsils are structures of the immune system located in the pharynx and throat. The tonsils protect the body from potential infection of invading pathogens into the respiratory system and the digestive system. Tonsils include several different structures: the adenoids, tubal tonsils, lingual tonsils, and palatine tonsils. Due to the sore feeling in the throat most patients do not feel like eating or swallowing which plays an impact on their digestive system and energy levels.

3. Causes

Tonsillitis is mostly caused by a virus and is often preceded by a cold (a runny nose, cough and sore eyes). Fewer cases (about one in seven) are caused by bacteria. The most common type of bacteria involved is streptococcus (also known as ‘strep’ throat.

4. Signs and Symptoms

People with tonsillitis often have:

  • A sore throat and neck

  • Pain when they swallow

  • Fever (a body temperature which is over 37.5 degrees for adults and over 38 in children.)

  • A loss of appetite, and feel generally ‘unwell’

  • Red and swollen tonsils (with pus)

  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes (glands) at either side of the neck

  • A change in the sound of their voice (such as sounding ‘hoarse’ or muffled).

  • Possibly pus on the tonsils, either in a fine film or in spots that can be easily wiped off with a swab

5. Management and/or treatment

Your treatment will depend on whether you have a bacterial or a viral infection. Simply looking at the tonsils does not always reveal the cause (bacteria or virus).

A throat swab (sterile cotton wool on a stick that is gently rubbed over the tonsils) may be taken to test for bacteria. If bacteria are present, then antibiotics are prescribed to help recovery. If you are given antibiotics, you must finish all the medicine, even if you feel better after a couple of days.

If the cause is a virus antibiotics will not help. A blood test may be needed to find the type of virus, especially if the infection does not clear up in about two weeks.

Key points
•Most commonly caused by viruses, but sometimes bacterial infections are to blame.

•Symptoms include sore throat and pain on swallowing.

•Tonsillitis rarely lasts more than a few days to one week.

•Throat swabs may be taken to determine the cause of infection. Antibiotics may be prescribed if it's a bacterial infection.

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