Tonsillitis :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Tonsillitis

What are tonsils?

Tonsils are paired immunologic organs located in the back of the throat. Their function is to help fight infection against viruses and bacteria. Although the tonsils can be beneficial, infection can be problematic.

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis refers to inflammation or infection of the tonsils. Common pathogens that can cause tonsillitis are various viruses and certain bacteria such as Streptococcus. Symptoms of tonsillitis include sore throat, difficulty swallowing, muffled voice and snoring.

How is tonsillitis treated?

Treatment of tonsillitis typically requires a course of antibiotics. Penicillin derivatives are the first line of treatment. Alternatives for penicillin allergic patients include clindamycin, azithromycin, fluorquinolones and sulfa derivatives.

Tonsillitis can lead to complications such as abscess, scarlet fever, rheumatic heart disease and kidney problems. It is important to seek guidance for treatment for tonsillitis from your child’s pediatrician or primary care physician.

If my child has tonsillitis, should I be concerned?

Recurrent tonsillitis can be a problem that requires surgery. If a patient has three episodes a year for three consecutive years; five episodes a year for two years; or seven episodes in a single year, consideration should be made to perform a tonsillectomy.

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