Rodney Lusk, M.D.

Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils and that infection can be viral and it can be bacterial. Ones that we are more concerned about are recurrent bacterial infections and it is usually strep that we are most concerned about. Those strep infections can get down within the tonsil tissues itself within the crisp or enfolds of the tonsils and that is where the bacteria can actually live. They live in colonies that we call biofilms.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

Symptoms associated with tonsillitis are pain, fever is very frequent, sore throat, and inability to swallow because it hurts so much.

How is tonsillitis treated?

The issue about treating it is, when is it appropriate to use antibiotics and certainly viruses can cause tonsillitis and we don’t give antibiotics for that. That is why we culture. Bacterial infections, particularly strep, warrant treatment with antibiotics.

When does surgery become an option?

There are now good studies that show that if a child is having recurrent infections of seven infections for 1 year, five infections for 2 years, or three infections for 3 years, then that warrants removal of the tonsils.

Tonsillitis can be either a viral or bacterial infection of the tonsils. Dr. Rodney Lusk, Board Certified Otolaryngologist at Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute and Co-Director of the Cochlear Implant Center, explains the symptoms of tonsillitis, the treatment options and when the tonsils should be removed. ​