SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic Staff
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
- Enlarged, tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
- A scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
- Bad breath
- Stomachache, particularly in younger children
- Stiff neck
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 to 48 hours
- Painful or difficult swallowing
- Extreme weakness, fatigue or fussiness
Get immediate care if your child has any of these symptoms:
July 17, 2015
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme difficulty swallowing
- Fact sheet: Tonsils and adenoids. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1432. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- Fact sheet: Tonsillitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1447. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- Tonsillopharyngitis. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear-nose-and-throat-disorders/oral-and-pharyngeal-disorders/tonsillopharyngitis. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- Paradise. Tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy in children: Indications and contraindications. http://www.uptodate.com/ home. Accessed June 1, 2015.
- Papadakis MA, et al, eds. Ear, nose, & throat disorders. In: Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2014. 53rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- Fact sheet: Tonsils and adenoids: Postop. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/tonsillectomy-and-adenoids-postop. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- Ferri FF. Tonsillitis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- Stopping the spread of germs at home, work and school. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- NINDS Reye's syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/reyes_syndrome/reyes_syndrome.htm. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- What is the role of aspirin in triggering Reye's? National Reye's Syndrome Foundation. http://www.reyessyndrome.org/aspirin.html. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 4, 2015.
- Orvidas LJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 16, 2015.