Symptoms and Treatment for Peritonsillar Abscess In Children

Peritonsillar abscess or PTA is one of the most common conditions involving the head and neck. It occurs most commonly in adults but rarely in children. When this condition develops, early treatment is advised in order to prevent serious complications such as blockage of the throat.

The condition is medically known as pediatric peritonsillar abscess or PTA.

The disease can vary from mild to severe. The condition can sometimes be mistaken for tonsillitis to the untrained eye.

  • Pediatric perionsillar abscess is basically an infection.
  • This involves the tissues of the throat located next to one of body’s tonsils.
  • An abscess refers to a pus collection that forms near the infected area, in skin or soft tissue.
  • A peritonsillar abscess usually starts out as tonsillitis.
  • When tonsillitis spreads, this causes an infection of the soft tissues resulting to an abscess.
  • Treatment of tonsillitis, therefore, is important in helping prevent the development of the complication of an abscess.

Peritonsillar Abscess Symptoms in Children

A child may experience a sore throat initially before the formation of an abscess.

It is also common for a child to develop an abscess 2-5 days after the onset of symptoms. The symptoms associated with PTA are:

  • Swelling or inflammation on one side or the mouth and throat.
  • The uvula is shoved aside from the swollen area.
  • Enlarged and tender lymph glands of the neck.
  • Severe sore throat isolated to one side.
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle spasm in the jaws and neck
  • Ear pain on the side of the abscess
  • Muffled voice
  • Difficulty swallowing of saliva

Peritonsillar Abscess Treatment for Children

Treatment may be on an outpatient or in-patient basis depending on the child’s ability to tolerate taking oral medications, the child’s general condition, and the severity of the peritonsillar abscess.

  • Hydration, antibiotics, and analgesia are important parts of the medical treatment for PTA.
  • These treatments may be given orally or intravenously depending on the child’s ability to tolerate oral medications.
  • Needle aspiration – is one method of draining the pus from the abscess and relieving the child of the inflammation. A needle is slowly inserted into the abscess and the pus is aspirated using a syringe.
  • Incision and drainage – another option of treatment which involves the use of a scalpel to make a small incision, draining the abscess.
  • Acute tonsillectomy – this procedure is a resort if the child cannot tolerate drainage procedures or has a history of recurrent tonsillitis.
  • The doctor will make the procedure as painless as possible with the use of anesthetics or even sedation.
  • The doctor will also make use of a suction apparatus to keep the child from swallowing pus and blood during the procedure.

Is Peritonsillar Abscess Contagious?

  • The condition is only considered mildly contagious.
  • The disease can spread through saliva and nasal discharges.
  • Coming into contact through the saliva and nasal discharges of an infected child may cause an infection in another individual.

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