Tonsil infections are a common childhood malady, bringing pain and discomfort to many children between the ages of five and 15. The result of inflamed tonsils, otherwise known as tonsillitis, is often caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
What Causes Pediatric Tonsillitis?
The tonsils are a pair of oval-shaped tissues in the back of the throat. As part of the immune system, the tonsils come into frequent contact with germs, making them prone to infection.
Viruses and bacteria, especially the Streptococcus bacterium (responsible for strep throat), are the most common causes of tonsillitis.
What Are the Symptoms of a Pediatric Tonsil Infection?
A sore swollen throat and inflamed tonsils that may appear red with a white or yellow coating are the most recognizable symptoms of tonsil infection. Other signs include swollen glands in the neck or jaw, difficulty swallowing, fever, headache, chills, fatigue, ear pain, and bad breath.
How Are Tonsil Infections Treated?
Diagnosing a tonsil infection requires a physical examination and an exam of the throat. Your child’s primary care doctor may perform a throat culture to check for strep.
Occasionally, home remedies are recommended for tonsil infections thought to be caused by a virus. Your child should get plenty of rest and stay hydrated with fluids. Warm broth or tea, and cold Popsicles, are particularly effective at soothing pain and discomfort.
Pain and fever can be controlled with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen (but avoid aspirin, which can be harmful in children). Throat lozenges or cough drops can be given to children over the age of four.
When a tonsil infection is the result of strep throat or another bacterial infection, your child’s doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
When is Tonsil Surgery Used to Treat Tonsillitis?
If tonsil infections fail to resolve with antibiotics or if they reoccur too frequently, a tonsillectomy may be recommended.