Most parents don’t like to hear “Mommy, my throat hurts when I swallow.” it’s certainly nothing to take lightly. Your child might have simply caught a viral or bacterial infection and the effect is the discomfort which could also be something more serious.
Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils; they are two oval-shaped pads of tissue located on each side of the throat — one tonsil on each side. Most tonsillitis are caused by infection with a common virus, but bacterial infections (streptococcus pyogenes – causes sore throat ) can also cause tonsillitis which can lead to complication if not treated. It is a common childhood illness among preschoolers and teenagers.
Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:
- Red, swollen tonsils
- White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils
- Sore throat
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
- A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
- Bad breath
- Neck pain or stiff neck
In young children who are unable to express themselves, signs of tonsillitis may include:
- Drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing
- Refusal to eat
- Unusual fussiness
When to see a doctor
Call your doctor if your child has:
- A sore throat with fever
- A sore throat lasting for 24 to 48 hours
- Painful or difficulty in swallowing
- Extreme weakness, fatigue or fussiness
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme difficulty swallowing
- Excessive drooling
Inflammation of the tonsils from frequent or ongoing (chronic) tonsillitis can cause complications such as:
- Disrupted breathing during sleep.
- Infection to the surrounding tissue (tonsillar cellulitis)
- Collection of pus behind a tonsil (peritonsillar abscess)
If tonsillitis is of viral origin, your child will likely be better within seven to 10 days. You can do the following to make your child comfortable and promote better recovery.
- Encourage your child to get enough sleep.
- Give your child plenty of water to keep the throat moist, it also prevent dehydration.
- Warm liquids can soothe a sore throat, give your child warm liquid – beverages.
- Give your child a saltwater gargle, it can help soothe a sore throat. Your child gargles the salt- solution and then spit it out.
- Give your child warm bath.
- Avoid irritants that can irritate the throat.
- Treat pain and fever, analgesics can be given as prescribed to minimize throat pain and control a fever.
(Unless aspirin is prescribed by a doctor to treat a particular disease, children should not take aspirin, use of aspirin for the treatment of cold or flu-like illnesses in children has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition)
Antibiotics – If tonsillitis is of bacteria origin, antibiotics will be prescribed for your child and hold be used as prescribed (adhere to the regimen). Your child must take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed even if the symptoms go away completely.
Surgery – surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be done to treat frequently recurring tonsillitis, chronic tonsillitis or bacterial tonsillitis that doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment. Frequent tonsillitis is generally defined as:
- At least seven episodes in the preceding year
- At least five episodes a year in the past two years
- At least three episodes a year in the past three years
A tonsillectomy may also be performed if tonsillitis results in difficult-to-manage complications, such as:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Breathing difficulty
- Swallowing difficulty, especially meats and other chunky foods
- An abscess that doesn’t improve with antibiotic treatment
A complete recovery from tonsillectomy usually take seven to 14 days.
The best prevention is to practice good hygiene. Teach your child:
- Hand hygiene.
- Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses, water bottles or utensils
- Replace his or her toothbrush after being diagnosed with tonsillitis
- Stay away from someone with active infection.
To prevent its spread to other children
- Keep your child at home when ill
- Ask your doctor when it’s all right for your child to return to school
- Teach your child to cough or sneeze into the elbow
- Hand washing after sneezing or coughing