Inflammation of the tonsils often occurs as a result of bacterial infection. It can be very painful, and some patients need many courses of antibitiocs throughout the year and lots of time off work. As such, it can have a major impact on people’s lives.
If the episodes are frequent enough, a tonsillectomy may be an appropriate operation. This will stop the episodes of tonsillitis, but will not stop the individual from having viral throat infections (pharyngitis).
The procedure has about a 2% risk of bleeding associated with it, which can occur in the first week or so after surgery. Some of these patients need to have another operation to stop the bleeding. We advise patients to have 2 weeks off from work/school to avoid picking up infections from other people.
More information on tonsillitis here.
Dysphagia (swallowing difficulty)
There are many causes of dysphagia. They can range from a condition called globus pharyngeus, which is simply a sensation of something being in the throat, to more worrisome pathology, such as tumours. Fortunately, tumours are uncommon. Occasionally neurological causes can lead to difficulty swallowing.
Nonetheless, patients worry about this symptom. A quick endoscopic examination in the clinic can put these worries to rest in most cases. Occasionally, further investigations (eg. barium swallow) may be required.
Non-smokers and younger patients are much less likely to have a tumour.
For more information on dysphagia, take a look here.
Dysphonia (hoarse voice)
Hoarseness can stem from several different causes. Vocal cord trauma from straining the voice can lead to injury of the vocal cords or strain on the muscles of the voicebox. Smoking can cause swelling of the tissues overlying the vocal cords, leading to a change in their shape; this often leads to hoarseness.
Laryngitis (inflammation of the voicebox) can stem from an infection of the voicebox. Injury to or compression of the nerves that control the muscles of the voicebox can also lead to a hoarse voice. Again,tumours of the throat/voicebox can cause people to have a change in the sound of their voice, and this is more common in smokers.
An inspection of the throat gives valuable information which can lead to a diagnosis. Sometimes an Xray or a scan will be required also.
Read more about dysphonia here.
Last updated 13/9/13