Acupuncture for Tonsillitis
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils. The tonsils are two small glands found at the back of the throat behind the tongue. The function of these glands is not entirely clear, but research suggests that they help to fight infections. Tonsillitis can be caused by either a virus or bacteria, although most cases are viral. The incubation period (the time between picking up the infection and symptoms starting to appear) is usually two to four days.
Acute tonsillitis is an acute non-specific inflammation of the tonsils. It occurs mainly in the spring and autumn and affects children and teenagers primarily. Symptoms include; chills, fever, headache, sore throat aggravated by swallowing and general soreness of the body. Acute tonsillitis can transform into a chronic disease. If it arises from a streptococcal infection it can lead to rheumatic fever and nephritis as well as otitis media, so immediate and proper treatment is essential. Tonsillitis often clears up on its own without the need for treatment, but in severe or recurring cases the tonsils may be removed in a common procedure called a tonsillectomy. Sometimes, if tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Tonsillitis and TCM
Chinese medicine differentiates between diseases causing a painful throat (such as laryngitis), and those causing tonsillitis. In the former, there may be issues involving specific organs (particularly the Lungs and Stomach). In Chinese diagnosis tonsillitis is caused either by an external factor (Wind-Heat) or by internal heat generated from the Lungs and Stomach which flares up and accumulates in the throat.
The Chinese medical practitioner will identify the causes of the condition, which may include; poor diet, excessive smoking, emotional disturbance, or the incomplete elimination of an external pathogenic factor. This last cause can arise from the over use of antibiotics, which are classified in Chinese medicine as “cold “ drugs. These serve to suppress the infection but do not address the underlying cause, which is then left to recur. Successive courses of antibiotics do not generally serve to alleviate chronic conditions of this sort.
Is Acupuncture Helpful in the treatment of Tonsillitis?
In 1979 the World Health Organisation published a list of various conditions in which acupuncture was indicated as a potential treatment based on clinical experience. Tonsillitis was included on this list. Subsequently, some clinical trials have been carried out: for example, Sun et al (2003) showed a high rate of success treating 58 patients with acupuncture using a pricking technique.
Jude Evans, Lincoln
“I am currently bringing my 5 year old daughter, Katie to the clinic. She had a nasty case of Eczema on her legs and was suffering from regular recurring bouts of Tonsillitis. Her Eczema has completely gone and she has only had one reoccurrence of Tonsillitis in the past few months, which only lasted 24 hours. Her general health has improved; she is now dry at night and sleeps much better than she did. As well as the Acupuncture, I have been shown massage techniques to use on Katie each night, and have been advised on her diet.
Katie loves going to the clinic; all the staff are brilliant with her. She tends to giggle her way through her treatments. For us, Acupuncture has worked 100% and I would certainly recommend Sean’s team to anyone.”
WHO (2002): Review and Analysis of Reports of Controlled Clinical Trials
Bai, X (1996) Acupuncture in Clinical Practice Oxford, Butterworth Heinemann
Sun, P (2002) The Treatment of Pain with Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture, Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone
Sun Y, Zhang Z, Miao H, Li W (2003) Treatment of 58 cases of tonsillitis by pricking technique Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, vol.1, no. 2 p40
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