Sore Throats and Swollen Glands: A Guide to Tonsillitis in Children

Tonsillitis, the inflammation of the tonsils, those two oval-shaped pads at the back of the throat, is a common ailment in childhood. While it can be uncomfortable and concerning for parents, understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help you navigate this bump in your child’s health journey.


  • Viral Invasion: The majority of tonsillitis cases (around 70%) are caused by viruses like the common cold and flu. These infections usually resolve on their own within a week.
  • Bacterial Blitz: Bacterial infections, especially Group A Streptococcus (the strep throat culprit), can also cause tonsillitis. These cases require prompt antibiotic treatment to prevent complications.


  • Throat Troubles: A sore throat, often described as scratchy or painful, is the hallmark symptom of tonsillitis. Difficulty swallowing and muffled speech are also common.
  • Red Alert: Swollen, red tonsils, sometimes with white or yellow patches, are a telltale sign of infection.
  • Feverish Feeling: A fever, especially above 100.4°F (38°C), can be present, particularly in bacterial cases.
  • Swollen Squad: Enlarged and tender lymph nodes in the neck are another indicator of an immune response to infection.
  • Extra Touches: Additional symptoms like headache, chills, bad breath, earache, and loss of appetite might also occur.


  • Viral Vacation: For viral tonsillitis, rest, plenty of fluids, and soothing throat remedies like lozenges and warm salt water gargles are the mainstays of treatment. Pain relievers like paracetamol or ibuprofen can help manage discomfort.
  • Antibiotic Attack: If bacterial tonsillitis is suspected, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics, usually penicillin, for a 10-day course. Completing the entire course is crucial to prevent complications.
  • Tonsillectomy Talk: In rare cases, children with frequent or severe tonsillitis episodes may benefit from a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils.

Tips for Parents:

  • Seek medical advice if your child has a sore throat that lasts more than a few days, has a high fever, or difficulty swallowing.
  • Encourage plenty of rest and hydration.
  • Offer throat-soothing foods and drinks like popsicles, ice cream, and warm soup.
  • Monitor for worsening symptoms and contact your doctor if needed.

Remember: Tonsillitis is usually a short-lived illness with proper care. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can help your child feel better and recover quickly.

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