"My child has been suffering from repeated sore throats…"

17 January 2018

Professor Iain Bruce, ENT Consultant

What is tonsillitis?
Acute tonsillitis is the term used to describe viral or bacterial infections of the tonsils in the back of the throat. Tonsillitis is a very common infection in childhood. It presents with a sore throat, fever, earache, tiredness and lack of appetite. Some children may also have stomach (abdominal) pain.

How is tonsillitis treated?
Mild to moderate severity cases may not require treatment except for simple painkillers (paracetamol and ibuprofen). However, more severe cases and those lasting over 5-7 days may benefit from oral antibiotic treatment. When a child is suffering from regular severe tonsillitis then they may benefit from surgical removal of their tonsils (tonsillectomy).

How do you make the decision to surgically remove the tonsils?
Tonsillectomy may be indicated to treat repeated episodes of tonsillitis if the episodes are regular or increasingly severe. The effect of repeated episodes of tonsillitis on school attendance are also taken into account.

The question, ‘how many is too many’ is difficult to answer and very much depends on the child or young person and the impact of the infections. The 'SIGN 117 Management' of sore throats and indications for tonsillectomy guidelines are often used to help in the decision-making process.


The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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