Medical Q&As

Tonsillitis - treatment?

Can you tell me how to treat tonsillitis in a ten-year-old child? The tonsils are about the size of two large grapes, the throat is a little sore, and the child’s voice sounds thick.

Tonsillitis can occur at any age but occurs most frequently in childhood. It is a bacterial infection that is usually caused by a bacterium called the streptococcus. The tonsils enlarge in response to the infection and become very inflamed. The surface of the tonsils develops a coating of white material that exudes from the follicles within the tonsils. The associated tonsillar lymph glands enlarge in response to the presence of infection giving rise to the appearance of swollen glands in the neck, which at times can also be quite painful. Sometimes the tonsils may appear to be inflamed without the presence of a coating on the tonsils and the inflammation may simply be part of a general inflammation of the upper respiratory tract due to viral infection. In that specific instance antibiotics are not indicated and the illness usually resolves spontaneously over the course of the week. Simple relief measures such as paracetamol based syrups relieve any pain that may be present and they also help to control the raised temperature that is often a feature of such illness. In the case of true tonsillitis due to the streptococcus penicillin is the drug of choice and this usually clears the infection satisfactorily within a week.