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Tonsillitis in Children

​Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, which are located in the back of the throat on both sides. Tonsils are part of the body’s immune system and help make antibodies to help stop infections. When the tonsils become infected with either a virus or a bacterial infection, they swell and inflame, causing Tonsillitis.

Signs and Symptoms of Tonsillitis

One of the most common symptoms of Tonsillitis is a sore throat. As a parent, it may be hard to know when your child's sore throat is something more. Some other symptoms to look for include:

  • Swollen tonsils
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Swollen or tender lymph nodes in the neck
  • Redness in the throat
  • Blisters or pustules on the tonsils
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue or lethargy

Tonsillitis Treatment

Treatment is typically dependent upon the cause of the infection. A physician will examine the throat and may include a throat culture to determine if the cause is a bacterial infection. If the physician determines the cause is bacterial, such as strep throat, your child may be prescribed antibiotics. If the infection is viral, antibiotics will not work to clear the infection. To provide comfort, Boys, Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute recommends:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Gargling with salt water
  • Using throat lozenges
  • Use of acetaminophen to assist with pain relief

When to Seek Treatment

If your child is experiencing a sore throat or swelling of the tonsils, schedule an office appointment with your physician. If your child is having problems breathing when sleeping or is suddenly snoring, seek medical attention expeditiously. Often the tonsils will become significantly enlarged and can cause difficulty breathing or eating.


If your child has reoccurring tonsil infections or is experiencing sleeping problems due to enlarged tonsils, it may be advised by your physician to perform a Tonsillectomy​​. If the problem is with obstructive sleep apnea a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is usually recommended. A Tonsillectomy is an outpatient procedure to remove part, or all, of the tonsils. After the surgery, a parent can expect their child to resume regular activities after 7- 10 days.

Illness and Injury Ear, Nose and Throat