What are the Best Treatments for Tonsillitis in Children?

Madeleine A.

The best treatments for tonsillitis in children depend on its cause. Typically, antibiotics are the best treatments when the infection is bacterial. Viral infections of the tonsils will not respond to these drugs, and therefore antibiotics should be avoided in these cases. Typically, tonsillitis, or swollen tonsils, causes sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and sometimes excessive drooling. Typically, tonsillitis in children will cause fever, general malaise, and occasionally, earache.

A persistent fever in a child with tonsillitis can lead to dehydration.
A persistent fever in a child with tonsillitis can lead to dehydration.

Although antibiotics will quickly alleviate symptoms in the bacterial infection, treatment for viral tonsillitis may be more challenging. Viral tonsillitis in children will not respond to antibiotic therapy, so treatments such as increasing fluid intake, using a humidifier, and taking pain relievers are generally offered. Pain-relieving medication will help relieve sore throat pain, and help to reduce fever.

If a child's tonsillitis is recurrent, a pediatrician might recommend a tonsillectomy.
If a child's tonsillitis is recurrent, a pediatrician might recommend a tonsillectomy.

Generally, tonsillitis in children is common, and not a serious condition. If, however, the child experiences persistent fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, dehydration can rapidly occur. Administration of fluids is extremely important in children who have fevers because dehydration in the very young can be a medical emergency. Symptoms of dehydration include decreased urinary output, dry and sticky oral mucus membranes, and sunken eyes. If confusion or lethargy occur, immediate medical treatment is required.

A pediatrician should be notified if the child has trouble keeping down liquid antibiotics.
A pediatrician should be notified if the child has trouble keeping down liquid antibiotics.

When tonsillitis in children is recurrent, the pediatrician might recommend a tonsillectomy, or removal of the tonsils. Because chronically inflamed tonsils can trap, and be a breeding ground for bacteria, their removal often alleviates the cycle. Removal of the tonsils is typically a routine procedure that is performed in an outpatient clinical setting. Recovery is generally rapid, and the risks are minimal.

Bacterial tonsillitis can be treated with antibiotics.
Bacterial tonsillitis can be treated with antibiotics.

Frequently, chronic tonsillitis in children is a condition that most will outgrow, and is seen more frequently in those who have allergies. One of the typical telltale symptoms of tonsillitis in children is white spots or pus pockets that are often seen on the tonsils. This occurs because when the tonsils trap bacteria, purulent matter, such as pus, surfaces and cause the deposits.

When liquid antibiotics are administered, children will sometimes vomit them up. When this occurs, recovery is delayed and the pediatrician needs to be notified so that he can suggest an alternative method. Occasionally, if the child cannot tolerate his medication, the doctor will suggest an intramuscular antibiotic. Although the child may experience some discomfort and local irritation, the antibiotic will work rapidly and will be retained in the system to alleviate the infection and symptoms.

Tonsillitis in children is common, and often not a serious condition.
Tonsillitis in children is common, and often not a serious condition.

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Discussion Comments

bythewell

@MrsPramm - I can remember having tonsillitis as a child and it was definitely not fun. The only good thing I remember about it was my parents being worried and caring about me. I often had allergies as a kid and my parents tended to be quite relaxed about me not feeling well, which made me think they didn't really care too much.

But when I felt really sick with a sore throat, to the point where I was almost crying from the pain, my mother was frantic about making sure I felt better. And I realized that they really did care a lot when there was a serious problem to care about.

I guess what I'm saying is, that if your kids are sick with something like that which is painful but not usually life threatening, they will probably appreciate a little bit of coddling.

MrsPramm

@Mor - I've got to admit the reason I wanted to get my tonsils out when I was a kid was because I had read a story that emphasized how much jello and ice cream the patients got to eat afterwards.

I never had tonsillitis symptoms as a child though. I've had strep throat as an adult and it was a horrible experience. I'd hate to go through that as a kid.

I felt like I couldn't eat or even swallow for days on end because the pain was just so bad. And it makes it impossible to sleep, but impossible to do anything else either.

Mor

I had tonsillitis when I was a kid many times and it was a nightmare. I can remember begging my mother to have my tonsils out because I thought that would cure it, and she and the doctor kept telling me I couldn't.

Unfortunately, it was during a period when doctors thought that it was doing more harm than good to take out tonsils, and to this day I still have mine and I still occasionally get very bad sore throats from them.

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