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Understanding Tonsillitis -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Tonsillitis?

  • A very sore throat with red, swollen tonsils; there may be a white discharge or spots on the tonsils
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck under the jaw
  • A low-grade fever, headache, and/or stomach ache accompanying the other symptoms

Symptoms for tonsillar abscess include:

  • In addition to inflamed tonsils, severe pain and tenderness around the area of the soft palate, at the roof of the mouth, and difficulty opening the mouth or swallowing
  • Distinctively muffled speech, as if the child is speaking with a mouthful of mashed potatoes, caused by swelling from the abscess

The abscess usually appears on one side only.

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Call Your Doctor About Tonsillitis If:

  • Your child has symptoms of tonsillitis.
  • Your child has trouble breathing at night or experiences noisy breathing or episodes of sleep apnea, in which the child stops breathing for brief periods while asleep; these symptoms may indicate enlarged adenoids or tonsils.
  • Your child has recurrent bouts of tonsillitis; surgery may be indicated.
  • Your child is not responding to antibiotics and has fever or pain, as well as white spots or a discharge on the tonsils; this may indicate mononucleosis or another infection.

Anyone with tonsillitis who is drooling, unable to drink or swallow or has any difficulty breathing should go to the emergency room for evaluation.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 11, 2015

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