Conditions related to tonsils and adenoids include recurrent sore throat and tonsil infections (tonsillitis).
A recurrent sore throat involves chronic (long-lasting) pain and scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often gets worse when you swallow. The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection, like the cold or flu. Sore throats caused by viral infections heal on their own with at-home care. Other causes of sore throat—such as streptococcal (strep) infection—require prescribed medicine from the doctor. Other symptoms of a sore throat include:
Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils are inflamed. Usually, a viral infection causes tonsillitis. More rarely, a bacterial infection can cause tonsillitis. Common symptoms of tonsillitis include:
If your child’s doctor suspects a sore throat or tonsillitis, he or she will use a lighted instrument to examine the throat, ears and nasal passages to check for signs of infection. The doctor will closely examine the tonsils and throat and check the neck for swollen glands. He or she may also listen to your child's breathing with a stethoscope and may also use a sterile swab to take a sample of secretions from the back of the throat to check for strep throat. The doctor will likely check for a rash called scarlatina (Scarlet fever), which is sometimes associated with strep throat.
If your child has a sore throat caused by a viral infection (the most common cause), only supportive treatment (for pain and fever, for example) is required and the condition will usually run its course in five to seven days. A sore throat caused by a bacterial infection often requires an antibiotic to fight the infection.
If your child has tonsillitis caused by a viral infection, the doctor will not prescribe antibiotics but will encourage at-home care for the condition. Doctors at Riley at IU Health recommend the following at-home care measures to help ease tonsillitis:
If your child has tonsillitis caused by a bacterial infection, the doctor will likely prescribe antibiotic medicine to fight the infection.
If your child's doctor prescribes an antibiotic to treat a sore throat or tonsillitis caused by a bacterial infection, it is important that your child follow the prescription and finish taking the round of antibiotics, even if symptoms disappear before the course of treatment is over.
Visit the trusted websites below for more information and support for pediatric tonsil and adenoid conditions.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
Read more about the tonsils, adenoids and conditions that can affect them on the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website.
The Ear, Nose & Throat Department at Riley at IU Health is currently involved in research related to the tonsils and adenoids. Ask your child's doctor for more information about these studies and participation in clinical trials.