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Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils at the back of the throat. Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a viral infection. Less often, a bacterial infection is a culprit. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils
  • Sore throat and painful swallowing
  • Fever
  • Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
  • Bad breath
  • Stomachache, particularly in younger children
  • Headache

In very young children, signs of tonsillitis may include drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing, refusal to eat, or unusual fussiness.


Self-care is generally the first line of treatment and often all that’s needed. To reduce symptoms, include:

  • Rest. Encourage your child to sleep and rest his or her voice.
  • Adequate fluids. Give your child plenty of water to keep the throat moist and prevent dehydration.
  • Comforting foods and beverages. Warm liquids, including broth, and cold treats like ice pops can soothe a sore throat.
  • Saltwater gargle. If your child can gargle, mix 1 teaspoon of table salt into 8 ounces warm water. Gargle the solution.
  • Pain relievers may reduce throat pain and fever.

Antibiotics. For tonsillitis caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are generally prescribed.

Surgery. In the case of frequently recurring tonsillitis, surgery may be performed to remove the tonsils. Frequent tonsillitis is generally defined as more than seven episodes in one year, more than five episodes a year in each of the preceding two years, or more than three episodes a year in each of the preceding three years.

      Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”. 

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