Why Some Kids Keep Getting Tonsillitis

Pediatrician examining little boy’s throat.

Some kids can’t get a break. They recover from one bout of tonsillitis only to get it again. Some kids get tonsillitis more than seven times a year. Here’s what you need to know about why some kids keep getting tonsillitis.

Why tonsillitis occurs

Behind the tongue on both sides of the throat are bumps of tissue called tonsils. They trap germs that enter your airways and can cause infection. They also make antibodies that fight bacteria and viruses. But sometimes tonsils become infected and swollen.


The most common symptoms of tonsillitis are inflammation and swollen tonsils. This sometimes causes difficulties in breathing and swallowing. Here are nine other symptoms:

  1. Ear pain or ear infection
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Headache
  4. Swollen glands in the neck and jaw
  5. Bad breath
  6. Fever and chills
  7. Redness at the back of the throat
  8. White or yellow pus spots or ulcers on the throat
  9. Hoarseness or loss of voice

Types of tonsillitis

Medical professionals say there are three types of tonsillitis:

  1. Acute – It usually lasts three to four days, but sometimes can hang on for up to two weeks.
  2. Chronic – The symptoms last longer than acute, and chronic tonsillitis can cause tonsil stones. These stones are created by a buildup of dead cells, saliva and food in the crevices of the tonsils.
  3. Recurrent – It occurs several times a year.

Diagnosis and treatment

Your doctor may look into your throat and see that your tonsils are red and swollen. Or, the doctor may see ulcers or white and yellow pus pockets. To confirm the diagnosis, you may need a throat swab to collect cells to test for strep. Another option is to do a blood test called a CBC or complete blood count. It will show whether you have a virus or bacterial infection.

The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if it’s an infection. If this is the case, make sure to take all of the medication. Otherwise, while your body heals, try these other home remedies:

  1. Get lots of rest.
  2. Drink fluids.
  3. Eat smooth foods, such as ice cream, applesauce or Jell-O.
  4. Use a cool or warm mist vaporizer or humidifier at night to make breathing easier.
  5. Gargle with warm saltwater.
  6. Suck on medicated lozenges to ease throat pain.
  7. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by a doctor.

For kids or adults who have regular bouts of tonsillitis, the doctor may recommend outpatient surgery, called a tonsillectomy, to remove the tonsils. Recovery can take seven to 10 days. The doctor also may prescribe medications to ease the pain. To feel better, drink lots of fluids. Eat soft foods but avoid cold food like ice cream, for the first 24 hours after a tonsillectomy.

Sometimes a cold virus can cause a sore throat. It also can cause ear pain and affect your hearing.

NIH News in Health

Leave a comment