It seems like children always get a sore throat once or twice a year. What should you do when this happens? Could it be tonsillitis? How can you tell?
Usually, most people attribute pain in the throat to a tonsil infection, which is far from the truth.
Most cases of sore throats are due to viral infections, which affect the throat, nose, middle ears and lower airways to some degree.
All cases of tonsillitis have sore throat, but not all cases of sore throat are due to tonsillitis.
Other symptoms like voice hoarseness and cough are also often blamed on the tonsils, either because the tonsils are enlarged, or they look “inflamed”. Many people seem to see enlarged and inflamed tonsils even when the tonsils are normal in size and colour.
The most common cause of sore throat in children is any one of a large number of viruses, none of which are treatable with antibiotics. These viruses can cause high fever and very painful sore throat.
The tonsils are oval-shaped, pink masses of tissue on both sides of the throat. The adenoid is similar to the tonsils and is located in the very upper part of the throat, above the uvula and behind the nose. Both the tonsils and the adenoid are part of your body's defence against infections.
Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils usually due to infection. There are several signs of tonsillitis, including:
- Red and swollen tonsils
- White or yellow coating over the tonsils
- A "throaty" voice
- Sore throat
- Uncomfortable or painful swallowing
- Swollen lymph nodes ("glands") in the neck
If your child shows any of these signs or symptoms of enlargement of the tonsils or the adenoid, and doesn't seem to be getting better over a period of weeks, talk to your paediatrician for an accurate diagnosis.
“Most cases of sore throats are due to viral infections, which affect the throat, nose, middle ears and lower airways to some degree. Put another ways, all cases of tonsillitis have sore throat, but not all cases of sore throat are due to tonsillitis.”
Dr. Lim Wye Keat, Consultant ENT Surgeon / Paediatric ENT Surgeon