Tonsillitis: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

February 1, 2021

Tonsillitis is an infection that affects children mainly within the ages of 5-15. In this article, we will learn about the causes of this common infection and the symptoms it comes with. We will also discuss tonsillitis treatment in Houston and situations that require a visit to the emergency room near you.

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils- two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of our throats, one on each side. It is mostly caused by viruses but bacteria can infect it too. The most common bacterium associated with tonsillitis is Streptococcus pyogenes, also responsible for strep throat. Before puberty, the tonsils play a huge role in immunity. They are the first line of defense against microbes that enter our mouths. After puberty, this function declines. This is why infection is common in young ones and rare in adults. Their strategic position to fight off infections makes them prone to infection. A proper diagnosis of tonsillitis must reveal the cause. This is because tonsillitis treatment in Houston depends on this. Surgery is an option for repeated infections that do not respond to treatment.

Another reason tonsillitis is common in children is because they are in constant close contact with their peers in school. This way, they are easily exposed to the bacteria and viruses that cause the infection.


Infected tonsils are usually red and swollen and you should be able to see this if you shine a light down your child’s throat. You may even see white or yellow patches on the tonsils. Children often have pain and difficulty swallowing, fever, and a sore throat when infected with tonsillitis. Other symptoms include enlarged and tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck, a scratchy/muffled voice, bad breath, and neck pain. Call a doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms.

You need tonsillitis emergency care if a child has difficulty breathing or extreme difficulty swallowing. Excessive drooling in a child also warrants a visit to an ER near you right away.


Inflammed tonsils can lead to problems with breathing when a child is sleeping (obstructive sleep apnea). The infection can spread to adjacent tissues to cause tonsillar cellulitis. Sometimes, the infection results in a collection of pus behind a tonsil, known as a peritonsillar abscess. This usually happens from frequent or chronic(ongoing) tonsillitis. Go to the emergency room for tonsillitis before things get worse.

When tonsillitis is caused by the bacterium, streptococcus pyogenes, your child is at risk of other infections caused by this bacterium. Other strains of streptococcus also put them at risk when the infection is not treated at all or treatment is not completed. One of such complications is rheumatic fever, a condition that affects the heart, joints, nervous system, and skin. Another is an inflammation of the kidney(post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis). There can also be an inflammation of the joints, known as post-streptococcal reactive arthritis.


If tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. The prescribed drug should be taken for the required time because uncompleted treatment can lead to complications. At home, encourage the child to rest and offer them lots of fluid. Warm broth, tea, or warm water with honey often offers relief. They should gargle and spit out a warm saltwater solution for relief too. Use a cool-air humidifier at home because dry air can irritate the throat. An alternative is to sit with them in a steamy bathroom. Keep your home free from cigarette smoke and other irritant particles. Treat pain and fever with drugs prescribed by your doctor.

Surgical removal of the tonsils is known as tonsillectomy. It is done to treat frequently recurring tonsillitis, or chronic tonsillitis that fails to respond to treatment. It can also be done when tonsillitis causes difficulty breathing when asleep and difficulty swallowing.

Good hygiene is the best way to prevent infection. Your child should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly. They should avoid sharing food, drinking glasses, or other things, especially at school. If they’re infected, keep them at home to avoid spread. Teach them how to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow.

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