What is Pediatric Tonsillitis?

Tonsils and adenoids are part of your child's body's immune system for fighting against infection. They are lymph nodes that are located in the back area of the throat, behind the nose. Pediatric tonsillitis refers to when your child's tonsils become infected with bacteria or viruses.

Causes of Pediatric Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is normally the result of a bacterial infection or viral infection, sometimes occurring due to strep throat. Pharyngitis refers to an infection that occurs further down the throat from the tonsils. Common causes or infections that result in pediatric tonsillitis can include:

  • Epstein-barr virus, or mononucleosis (mono)
  • Streptococcus pyogenes infection (strep throat)
  • Contact with another sick person, sometimes occurring through hand-to-hand contact or sharing a glass

The different types of pediatric tonsillitis include:

  • Acute tonsillitis - severe symptoms that originate quickly
  • Chronic tonsillitis - symptoms do not go away after treatment
  • Recurrent tonsillitis - refers to having several episodes of tonsillitis in the same year

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Pediatric Tonsillitis

Pediatric tonsillitis will likely have your child showing some of the following symptoms:

  • Scratch or hoarse voice
  • Sore throat lasting more than two days
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing or breathing
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Ear pain
  • Foul breath
  • Fever
  • Yellow or white dots on the tonsils

Pediatric tonsillitis will usually be diagnosed by a doctor performing a strep test, which may involve either a rapid test, or a cotton swab rubbed against your child's throat that is sent to a lab for a test.

Treatments for Pediatric Tonsillitis

Viral infections causing tonsillitis will usually go away on their own after a few days. You can help to lessen your child's symptoms through over-the-counter pain medications, lozenges, and gargling with warm salt water.

If the tonsillitis is a result of a bacterial infection (strep throat), your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection. Antibiotics will usually help to lessen the symptoms within a few days.

If your child is affected by chronic or recurrent tonsillitis, your doctor may recommend a surgery that removes the tonsils, also called a tonsillectomy. Tonsillectomy surgeries generally take about 20 minutes and does not include an overnight stay.


All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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