Recurrent tonsil infections are a common problem for adults. This is often seen when patients have frequent “sore throats” that last for weeks to even months. This is commonly due to a bacterial biofilm often caused by streptococcus. Biofilms are simply described as a microscopic spider web of bacteria.
This is not normally a problem, except for when our immune system drops (such as during a common cold, sleepless nights or in times of high stress). When this occurs the biofilm can shed and we get a bacterial infection. This can often times cause significant pain and lead to missed days of work and use of PTO. It can also lead to visits to the doctor, urgent care or ER. In the worst scenarios you can develop an abscess next to the tonsil (peritonsillar abscess) which may need surgical drainage. Common infections can necessitate frequent use of antibiotics which can lead to other problems such as resistance.
Another bacteria which lives in the mouth called Actinomyces is also a common problem in adults with frequent tonsil infections. This bacteria can only be fought off by penicillin antibiotics which many people have allergies to. The main treatment for those suffering from frequent antibiotic use is surgical. There are a variety of ways to take the tonsils out, but it is often painful and requires 1-2 weeks of recovery. Recently, there have been some advancements in surgical options which have allowed for a less painful tonsillectomy with speedier recovery. Using certain surgical instrumentation and post operative fluid hydration, we can help nurse patients back to health in a faster and less painful fashion.