Parenting Babycare Health

What Are Tonsillitis Symptoms, Treatment, Know When Do Tonsils Need Consultations

Dr Shipra Mathur
1 to 3 years

Created by Dr Shipra Mathur
Updated on Mar 26, 2018

What Are Tonsillitis Symptoms Treatment Know When Do Tonsils Need Consultations

Tonsillitis is a common infection in children and most children may have an episode or so in their childhood. Recurrent tonsillitis infections are rare but may be seen in children with low immunity or other underlying problems. However not all throat infection is tonsillitis.

What Is Tonsillitis?

Tonsils are the tissue that hangs on both sides at the back of the throat and can be seen when the mouth is wide open. It is present in all children and is there to fight out the germs in the throat. However, sometimes the bacteria or the virus may be too strong and infects the tonsils themselves. It makes the tonsils swell up, congested and red in appearance. This condition is “tonsillitis’

Tonsillitis Signs & Symptoms 

  1. Difficulty in swallowing and therefore refusal to eat is often the first symptom
  2. There is always a fever that may be high grade and associated with chills and tiredness in an unwell looking child

Other symptoms include-

  1. Persistent sore throat, bad breath, enlarged glands in the neck, snoring or mouth breathing when sleeping, drooling etc.

Many other throat infections can cause similar symptoms though, so a doctor will need to examine your child to make a diagnosis. Usually the tonsil will be red looking with white pus spots or patches on them.

Treatment Of Tonsillitis –

Treatment depends on the cause of tonsillitis.

  1. If a bacterial infection is suspected, antibiotics will need to be taken for the full duration of the course. The fever usually responds to 48 hours of the antibiotic. However do not stop the antibiotics midway as the bacteria may not be completely wiped out and there may be a relapse
  2. Of course, antibiotics won’t help if your child’s sore throat is caused by a virus in which case the tonsillitis will run its course

As parents

you need to ensure that the child gets –

  1. Get plenty of rest
  2. Drink cool drinks or honey and lemon in warm water to soothe the throat
  3. Offer plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  4. Older children can gargle with warm salty water
  5. Paracetamol /anti fever medication as needed

Is It A Serious Infection?

Tonsillitis usually responds well to medication and complications are very rare. If they happen, they mostly affect young children aged 2 to 4. A streptococcal (a type of bacteria) infection of the tonsils that goes untreated can progress to form a collection of pus between the tonsils and the nearby tissue that can cause severe swelling. An untreated strep infection can also lead to rheumatic fever, which can cause heart problems.

When Do Tonsils Need To Be Taken Out?

Nowadays a tonsillectomy is done only when the tonsils pose a chronic problem as in -

  • Recurrent tonsillitis or associated ear and sinus infections
  • When swollen tonsils are accompanied by large adenoids, there may be sleep apnoea that causes pauses in breathing during sleep

You may be asked to consult an ENT doctor in this situation.

Overall, tonsillitis is a very common childhood illness and it’s usually no cause for worry. The children require rest, adequate fluids and antibiotics if bacterial in origin.

I hope this has been useful information for parents; do share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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