Tonsils – a cluster of lymphoid tissue, located on the border of the cavities of the mouth and nasopharynx. The most famous and notable among them are the paired palatine tonsils (in everyday language – glands), which are located at the junction of the oral cavity in the throat.
When they turn red and inflamed, they become clearly visible even to a person who is far from medicine, if the patient has his mouth wide open. Another pair is tubal tonsils: they hide in the nasopharynx near the mouths of the auditory tubes and protect them.
In addition, the defense of our throat is strengthened by three “single men”: lingual, throat and pharyngeal tonsils.
Together with the lymph nodes, they perform very responsible work in the body, especially in children. Tonsils recognize and destroy dangerous germs and viruses that have entered the baby’s mouth with food, water or air, and also maintain normal microflora in the mouth.
The work of the tonsils is especially important in the period of early childhood, when the child’s immune system is trained and a massive fight against aggressive pathogens in the oral cavity and pharynx.
Tonsils are laid in the process of the fetal development of the future baby, from about the 3rd to the 5th month. When a newborn is just born, its immune system is in a dormant state, since there are no aggressors in the mother’s womb with which it must fight on its own. Only by 2–3 months of life does the lymphoid tissue begin to work gradually.
The pharyngeal tonsil develops most quickly and grows: it begins to function almost fully by the end of the first year of the baby’s life. Glands completely formed only by 2 years.
The protective role of the tonsils reaches its greatest bloom by the age of 6–7 years, and by the adult state they are no longer the “first violin” of immunity and simply atrophy.
The tonsils are composed of lymphoid cells and differ in structure. The tonsils are more complex than the others.
Their surface is covered with special grooves – lacunae, from which long, winding passages go deep into the entire thickness of the amygdala. They produce protective cells that can destroy viruses and microbes and form an immune response in the pharynx. Here the real battles of the child’s immune system with “enemies” unfold.
The pharyngeal tonsil is simpler and consists of layers of lymphoid cells with shallow longitudinal channels, and the smallest, tubal tonsils do not have a clear structure at all.
Under the adenoids understand the overgrowth of the pharyngeal tonsil. In response to the invasion of microbes in the child’s nasopharynx or allergy, the pharyngeal tonsil begins to actively produce lymphocytes and increases in size (so-called working hypertrophy occurs).
If during pregnancy, especially from the 7th to the 9th week, the mother was sick with viral diseases, then the baby can be born with already hypertrophied tonsils. In addition, in the first 3 years of a child’s life there are quite a few vaccinations, which also leads to an increase in lymphoid tissue.
And if frequent colds are added to all this, then the pharyngeal tonsil works non-stop: not having time to shrink to the original volume, it increases again. In this way, it is not the working hypertrophy that arises, but the chronic inflammation of the tonsil itself – adenoiditis.
Most often, this form of inflammation of the tonsils affects children 3–4 years old. The first signal of this problem is a violation of nasal breathing and snoring during sleep. The child’s mouth is constantly half-open, the face becomes puffy, bags appear and blue under the eyes, the voice becomes nasal.
The body of the baby dramatically lacks oxygen, and this leads to a number of problems of the central nervous system. Sometimes these children have poor memory, attention dissipates, they become irritable, capricious, and nocturnal enuresis may occur.
Nevertheless, experts do not advise to hurry with the removal of adenoids, because they are very important for the immune defense of the body. Nowadays, there are several treatment programs and a number of drugs that help improve nasal breathing and the general condition of the nasopharynx: homeopathic remedies, special nasal drops and irrigation, physiotherapy, breathing exercises. The decision to remove adenoids is usually made when conservative treatment does not work, and the baby develops complications.
Growing, adenoids clog the mouth of the auditory tubes and thereby lead to the occurrence of inflammatory processes in the middle ear. If otitis in a baby occurs after every cold, you should think about the operation.
When the inflammatory changes are not too deep and are amenable to treatment, one can hope that with time the baby will “outgrow” this problem. In children older than 7 years old, the dome of the nasopharynx becomes taller, and the pharyngeal tonsil does not obstruct it, and the former activity is no longer required from it.
And because the adenoids in older children are no longer hypertrophied, and, gradually decreasing in size, lose their importance.
Prevention rules are simple and universal: a healthy lifestyle, long walks, sports, hardening. By the way, as a hardening, you can gradually accustom the child to cold food and drinks: for example, enter ice cream into the baby’s diet.
To make the child accustomed to the effects of cold and to be less sensitive to him, consistently and regularly arrange him with contrasting douches and baths, bathing in cool water; useful trips to seaside resorts. All these are effective procedures that increase both the general and local immunity of the child. In case of a violation of nasal breathing, breathing exercises such as ballooning and soap bubbles can help in addition to medications.
And older children will benefit from singing or playing wind instruments.
This problem usually occurs in children older than 2 years. At this age, the tonsil lacunae are narrow and highly crimped, which is why microbes accumulate in them, their metabolic products, dead lymphocytes, and microscopic food particles. With the weakening of immunity in a child there is a strong inflammation of the tonsil – acute tonsillitis (or, in a more usual version, – angina).
Unlike sluggish adenoiditis, this ailment begins violently: with high fever, weakness, and severe sore throat.
Most often, pathogens of angina are streptococci. Depending on how affected the tonsil tissue is and where inflammation is localized, catarrhal (least severe, without purulent secretions), follicular (with lesions of lymphoid formations – follicles – and liquid purulent “plugs”) and lacunar angina are distinguished.
The latter is considered the most difficult because it involves the entire tonsil tissue and even the nearest lymph nodes in the purulent process.
Angina is definitely a serious disease for the little man. She should be treated only by a doctor (no popular recipes!), And antibiotics are the leading drugs.
One cannot do without serious treatment: a sore throat is dangerous not only by its course, but also by complications, because from the inflamed tonsils the infection can go to the heart, kidneys, joints.
The result of frequent sore throats is a constant inflammation of the tonsils – chronic tonsillitis. If this process is delayed, the lymphoid tissue of the tonsils is regenerated and replaced with inactive connective tissue.
Such inferior tonsils not only can not be a reliable barrier against microbial attack, but sometimes they themselves become a source of infection. There are several approaches to the treatment of chronic tonsillitis (washing the tonsils, rinsing, throat irrigation, homeopathy, physiotherapy), but the main idea is simple: as long as possible, the process should be treated conservatively.
To solve the problem of removing tonsils in young children is necessary only if it is absolutely impossible to influence them with medicines.
Often in young children, sore throat occurs not as an independent disease, but as a consequence of other infectious diseases. This pattern is typical for scarlet fever, infectious mononucleosis, diphtheria, herpes.
In all these cases, it is important to recognize the angina together with the pediatrician or otolaryngologist in time and select the appropriate treatment for the child in the specific situation.