Tonsillitis is an infection in the tonsils. The tonsils live in the back of the throat. It’s very common in kids. We see it all throughout the year. It can be caused either by a bacteria or a virus. The bacteria we see most commonly is strep tonsillitis.
Most kids when they get tonsillitis complain of sore throat that is probably the most common symptom. There are other symptoms including fever, headaches, some kids even get stomach aches as a primary symptom of tonsillitis and it becomes hard for them to swallow and so they can become dehydrated.
Generally the pain is a lot worse and will last for longer if it is a true tonsillitis. Sometimes you can tell by looking at the back of the throat. Sometimes we use tests to determine if it’s a sore throat or tonsillitis, like a swab to test for the strep bacteria.
Depending on if it is viral or bacterial it can be either observation or an antibiotic. Antibiotics are very effective in treating bacterial tonsillitis.
Surgery that we perform for recurrent tonsillitis would be a tonsillectomy. It is removal of the tonsil tissue which often harbors the chronic infection and chronic problems that the kids might have. Studies show that kids that have greater than seven infections in one year, five per year for two consecutive years or three per year for three consecutive years, the benefit of a tonsillectomy outweighs the risk at that point.
Tonsillectomy is very common. We do multiple usually in a week and kids generally do well after surgery.
Tonsillitis can be either a viral or bacterial infection of the tonsils. Dr. Kelli Rudman, Board Certified Otolaryngologist at Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute, explains the symptoms of tonsillitis, the treatment options and when the tonsils should be removed.