Pharyngitis can be caused by many things. Viral infections are the most common cause. Tonsillitis is usually from viral or bacterial infections. Other causes include:
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child’s current symptoms. He or she will check your child's temperature. The provider will examine your child, paying close attention to the ears, nose, throat, and tonsils. Depending on your child’s symptoms, the provider may do a throat culture or blood tests.
Your child may have a rapid strep test. This is a fast test to see if your child has strep throat. It is important to check for strep throat to treat it and prevent complications. Your child may also have a throat culture and sensitivity. This also checks for strep and for the best antibiotic to treat it. It takes a few days to get the results. Blood work may be done to check for infections like mono (infectious mononucleosis).
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
If your child has a bacterial infection, then he or she will be treated with antibiotics. If bacteria are not the cause of the infection, then the treatment will focus on making your child comfortable. Treatment may include:
Tonsillitis may also require a hospital stay if enlarged tonsils are blocking the airways. In some children with recurrent tonsillitis, the healthcare provider may recommend that your child have his or her tonsils removed (tonsillectomy). Your child's healthcare provider will likely want you to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT).
Complications of pharyngitis and tonsillitis are:
Untreated strep throat may lead to heart and kidney problems, middle ear infection, lung infection, or infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord.
Call your child's healthcare provider if your child has:
Call 911 or your local emergency number if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200