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What Is Tonsillitis and What Problems Can It Cause?

What Is Tonsillitis and What Problems Can It Cause?

Spring is here and pollen is in the air. We sat down with Dr. Nadim Bikhazi, ENT Specialist at Ogden Clinic, to ask about the problems allergies can cause in children, including tonsillitis and obstructive sleep apnea.

Q: What is tonsillitis and what problems can it cause?

A: Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils. Not only are inflamed tonsils obviously uncomfortable, but they often cause strep throat. Strep throat most often develops in children that are between three and six years of age. If a child suffers from more than four strep throat infections in a year, then it’s really important that we get that managed properly – possibly with a tonsillectomy if antibiotics have failed.

The reason that strep is so significant is because your body has an immunologic reaction to strep that can really cause major symptoms of fever and feeling sick (almost flulike). In the old days, when antibiotics weren’t used, it would lead to rheumatic fever and kidney damage. Nowadays, of course, we get antibiotics in pretty quickly.

But if you or your child have been getting recurring strep throat, it’s important to get that addressed. It’s a pretty pathologic bacteria and we want to get that addressed with a tonsillectomy as soon as possible if medication has failed.

Q: Can tonsils interfere with normal breathing?

A: Very much so, yes. We see that commonly. Because a child’s lymph system is developing, the tonsils in the throat tend to proportionately be very large and can negatively influence breathing. Where parents should be concerned is if the child is having pauses in breathing. Snoring is just loud breathing, and usually isn’t that big of a deal. But pausing – a cessation of breathing for up to ten seconds – that’s a sign that the tonsils are big enough that they are actually causing obstructive sleep apnea. That will cause the child to not get restful sleep, which, at a young age, can lead to several other problems.

Signs will include if your child is excessively tired in the morning to the point of being difficult to wake up. Sometimes attention deficit issues are due to poor sleep. I encourage parents to look out for those symptoms. If those symptoms exist, I encourage parents to talk to their child’s primary care provider about possible tonsillitis.

Dr. Nadim Bikhazi
Dr. Nadim Bikhazi is an Ear, Nose, & Throat (ENT) Specialist in Ogden. Dr. Bikhazi is very interested in research and keeps his patients apprised of the latest technological advances. He has a strong interest in sinus surgery, otology, allergy screening and treatment, sleep apnea, and snoring solutions. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bikhazi, please call 801-475-3075.