Recognizing and treating tonsillitis

(Pixabay/Skeeze/Public Domain)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A painful sore throat that lingers, making it tough to swallow or even breathe could be tonsillitis.

It is a common childhood illness that occurs when the infection-fighting tonsils in the back of the throat become infected. Dr. Katy Stordahl, an Emergency Room physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says removing the tonsils is not always necessary for tonsillitis.

Symptoms can include red, swollen, irritated tonsils that cause uncomfortable or painful swallowing, according to Dr. Stordahl. She said they may also include swollen glands in the neck, fever and a “throaty” sounding voice.

Treatment, according to Dr. Stordahl, depends on whether tonsillitis is caused by a virus or by bacteria, like strep. If caused by an infection, she says the body will fight off the infection on its own. If caused by strep bacteria, she said antibiotics are needed to treat tonsillitis.

Dr. Stordahl says talk to your pediatrician about treatment options. She says they may recommend surgery if your child has any of the following conditions:

  • Tonsil or adenoid swelling that makes normal breathing difficult (This may or may not include sleep apnea)
  • Tonsils that are so swollen that your child has a problem swallowing
  • Repeated ear or sinus infections despite treatment
  • Excessive number of severe sore throats each year
  • Lymph nodes beneath the lower jaw are swollen or tender for at least six months, even with antibiotic treatment

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