Recurrent Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils, small pads of tissue that sit at either side of the back of the throat. They are part of our immune system and contain white blood cells that fight germs.

When tonsils become inflamed, this is usually caused by viruses. Bacteria such as the group A Streptococcus may also play a role, which is why the name ‘Strep throat’ is often used for tonsillitis.  Symptoms of tonsillitis include a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and general malaise. Tonsillitis is a very common childhood infection, which usually resolves without further issues. Some children however, get tonsillitis repeatedly, several times a year. 

During your child’s consultation for recurrent tonsillitis, examination may include one or more of the following:


Intraoral inspection-this is an examination to assess your child’s tonsils more in detail. We assess the mouth with a headlight that enables us to see the structures in your child’s mouth and the tonsils in particular. We look at the size, and more importantly the aspect of your tonsils. 

Palpation of (feeling) the neck- feeling the neck to assess for swollen lymph nodes that are often associated with recurrent tonsillitis. 

The following treatments may be offered:

Watchful waiting-in some cases, we come to the mutual decision to wait a while longer and see how the pattern of recurrent tonsillitis develops over time. In some cases, the tonsillitis episodes become shorter and the intervals in between become longer, sometimes the infections stop happening altogether. Watchful waiting is a strategy we establish together, depending on your child’s situation and your wishes. We will continue to monitor your child at certain time intervals and our mutual decision may change at any time. 

Tonsillectomy-this is a surgical procedure during which we remove your child’s tonsils. Tonsillectomy always happens under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. Your child may be able to go home the same day after a few hours of observation, or may need to stay one or more nights. More information can be found in our patient information folder.