Tonsillitis most commonly affects children between preschool and mid-teenage years.
Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis are as follows:
- red, swollen tonsils
- white or yellow coating on tonsils
- patches on tonsils
- sore throat
- pain while swallowing
- an itchy throat or a muffled voice
- bad breath
- enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
- possible irritability or a poor appetite among children too young to express themselves
There are two types of tonsillitis:
- recurrent tonsillitis, in which multiple episodes of acute tonsillitis occur in a year, with each episode lasting for 4 to 10 days.
- chronic tonsillitis, in which episodes last longer than acute tonsillitis, with other symptoms like chronic sore throat, bad breath and tender lymph nodes in the neck.
- A middle ear infection (otitis media) - where fluid between the eardrum and inner ear gets infected by bacteria
- Difficulty breathing
- Disrupted breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnoea)
- Infection that spreads deep into the surrounding tissue (tonsillar cellulitis)
- Infection that results in a collection of pus behind a tonsil (peritonsillar abscess)
If tonsillitis is caused by group A streptococcus, the child has an increased risk of rare problems such as rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disorder that affects the heart, joints and other tissues; or an inflammatory disorder of the kidneys that results in inadequate removal of waste and excess fluids from blood.