It was the 8th time in 8 months when my eldest daughter again woke up with a high temperature and sore throat. She was pale and shivery and looked really unwell. The distinctive smell of infected tonsils was on her breath and looking at the back of her throat confirmed that her tonsils were enlarged, red and covered in pus and she again had tonsillitis.

This was the 2nd year when she had suffered from recurrent tonsillitis. She was now also having really restless sleep, due to snoring and pauses in her breathing, from her now chronically enlarged tonsils blocking her airway. She was always tired and seemed to be constantly ill.

A few weeks later she was admitted to hospital to have her tonsils removed and she has been a happier, healthier child ever since! She was eating a roast dinner within a couple of hours of coming back to the ward and then proceeded to eat a snack box including a bag of crisps. We went home that night and she went back to school 3 days later. More than 3 years on she has rarely been ill and now sleeps soundly!

Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a virus and do not require antibiotics. Children should be given paracetamol and/or ibuprofen for pain or fever and encouraged to drink frequently to keep hydrated, they may prefer warm or cool drinks or even ice lollies to sooth their sore throat. See your GP if:

  • Your child has fever for 5 days or more

  • They are unable to swallow

  • They have breathing difficulties

  • They have severe throat pain

  • They are not drinking

  • You feel concerned about your child for any other reason (always trust your gut instinct)

It used to be common for children to have their tonsils out. There are now set criteria for referral for consideration of tonsillectomy for recurrent tonsillitis and these include:

  • Recurrent tonsillitis

  • More than 7 episodes per year for 1 year or

  • More than 5 episodes per year for 2 years or

  • More than 3 episodes a year for 3 years

  • Tonsillitis which causes febrile seizures or increased seizures in a child with epilepsy

  • Co-existing medical conditions such as sickle cell disease

  • Tonsillitis causing abscesses or requiring admission to hospital for IV antibiotics

We were worried about our daughter having her tonsils out, concerned about the risks of surgery, but it is amazing what a difference it has made for her health and wellbeing!

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