Tonsillitis most commonly affects children between preschool ages and the mid-teenage years. Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • White or yellow coating or patches on the tonsils
  • Sore throat
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Fever
  • Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
  • A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
  • Bad breath
  • Stomachache, particularly in younger children
  • Stiff neck
  • Headache

In young children who are unable to describe how they feel, signs of tonsillitis may include:

  • Drooling due to difficult or painful swallowing
  • Refusal to eat
  • Unusual fussiness

When to see a doctor

It's important to get an accurate diagnosis if your child has symptoms that may indicate tonsillitis.

Call your doctor if your child is experiencing:

  • A sore throat that doesn't go away within 24 hours
  • Painful or difficult swallowing
  • Extreme weakness, fatigue or fussiness

Get immediate care if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extreme difficulty swallowing
  • Drooling
Aug. 04, 2012