Infection of the tonsils, or tonsillitis, can be painful and sometimes require surgery. However, in most cases your child’s immune system can fight off infection of the tonsils, which are two masses of tissue at the back of the throat.
Symptoms & Causes
Causes of tonsillitis can be bacterial or viral and are often linked to strep throat. Less common causes include fungi or parasites. Children who breathe secondhand smoke more often require surgical removal of the tonsils, or tonsillectomy, than kids who don’t live with smokers. Symptoms of tonsil infection range from throat pain to headache to ear pain and even abdominal pain. If your child complains of difficulty swallowing, has loss of appetite, or has nausea or vomiting, you should see a doctor.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The treatment of tonsil infection will depend on what your doctor finds during your child’s office visit. The doctor will take a throat culture or perform a rapid strep test to see if the common and specific bacterium is to blame. When the tonsils are infected by bacteria, your child’s doctor may prescribe antibiotics and some home remedies to ease symptoms. If a virus is the cause, the doctor will likely suggest the following tips to do at home, because only the body will be able to heal the infection: plenty of rest; cold water; smooth, soft food; use of a vaporizer; gargling with warm saltwater; and throat lozenges. In some cases, your child’s doctor might suggest a tonsillectomy to remove chronically inflamed tonsils.
Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently to prevent the spread of the virus and bacteria that cause tonsillitis. Also make sure to keep your children out of contact with anyone who has strep throat until more than a day after the sick friend has started taking antibiotics.