Tonsillitis in Babies and Toddlers: Everything You Need to Know


When a baby cries and refuses to eat anything, it breaks a mother’s heart. At this time it is difficult for parents to find the cause of crying, but at the same time the baby is refusing to eat, then the parents should understand that there is a problem in the baby’s mouth. This might be due to pain in the throat which indicates ‘tonsillitis‘.

The following article will tell about the causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tonsillitis in babies.

In this article:

What is Tonsillitis?
Signs and Symptoms of Tonsillitis in Babies
Causes of Tonsillitis in Babies
Complications of Tonsillitis in Babies
How is it Diagnosed?
Treatment of Tonsillitis in Babies
Home Remedies for Treatment of Tonsillitis
Prevention of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis in Babies: Signs, Symptoms & Home Remedies

What is Tonsillitis?

Tonsils are the pink-colored lump of tissues at the back of the throat on both sides, any infection of these tonsils is known as tonsillitis. Infection can be caused by certain types of bacteria and viruses. The most common bacteria which causes tonsillitis is streptococcus, in this case, a doctor prescribes antibiotics to the patient. The main duty of the parents is to make sure that the child takes the antibiotic regularly and complete the dose directed by a doctor.


tonsillitis in babies

When the case is severe means if the child’s tonsils are infected a lot and cause a problem in breathing then the doctor recommends tonsillectomy, which is a surgery in which tonsils are removed.

Signs and Symptoms of Tonsillitis in Babies

Following are the signs and symptoms of tonsillitis:

Difficulty in Swallowing (Dysphagia)

Due to the large size of the tonsils, they rub against the throat, which causes severe pain. Due to this, a child refuses to eat food and the appetite of the child reduces.


Due to irritation in the throat there can be repeated coughing and by this pain aggravates.



The rise in body temperature from the normal level is fever. When a pathogen enters the body the body detects it and the temperature of the body begins to rise this is the best indicator of any infection. So, during tonsillitis also body temperature rises and fever takes place.

Bad Breath

The developing activities of the bacteria in the body results in a certain compound that causes bad odor.

Excessive Dribbling of Saliva

Due to excruciating pain, the baby refuses to swallow which leads to the accumulation of saliva in the mouth, leading to excessive dribbling of saliva. This is one of the classic signs of tonsillitis in babies.

Rashes of Tonsillitis

Infection due to invasion of Streptococcus Group A Bacteria forms rashes on the face, neck, back, and abdomen. Strawberry-like small sores are also found on the tongue which later on turns dark red accompanied by white patches.

Ear Pain

The pain of tonsillitis may transfer to the ears and cause pain in the ear. If the baby pulls his or her ear during swallowing and cries it indicates tonsillitis due to which there is referred pain in the ear.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Due to tonsillitis the areas around the neck and below the jaw become swollen due to enlargement of lymph nodes.


Causes of Tonsillitis in Babies

There are the following causes of tonsillitis in babies:

Common Cold

Many viruses such as adenovirus, influenza virus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus cause the common cold. Running nose, congestion in the nose and sore throat are the main symptoms of the common cold. This is the primary cause of tonsillitis.

Bacterial Infections

The most common bacteria which causes tonsillitis is Group A Streptococci. The bacteria spread when a healthy individual comes in contact with an infected person.

Some other bacteria which cause tonsillitis in babies are Streptococcus pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Chlamydia pneumonia, Pertussis, and gonorrhea.

Other Causes

Some of the other causes which result in tonsillitis are:

  • Allergens like dander, molds, dust, and pollen can cause sore throat.
  • Tobacco smoke or chemicals from indoor and outdoor air pollution can cause chronic sore throat.

Complications of Tonsillitis in Babies

If tonsillitis in babies is left untreated for a long time then the following complications take place:

Rheumatic Fever

Repeated episodes of sore throat in babies indicate a case of rheumatic fever. Due to delayed response of the immune system against Group A Streptococcal infection signs of rheumatic fever is noted. Signs of rheumatic fever include stomach pain, rashes, weight loss, etc.

For effective and immediate treatment anti-inflammatory medications along with antibiotics are recommended by the doctor. If there is inflammation of the heart valves in babies then this is a medical emergency.

Sleep Apnoea

The large size of the tonsils obstructs airway passages due to which there is a problem in breathing. Due to this the sleep pattern of the baby disturbs and the baby sleeps more in the daytime.


A viscous fluid is secreted by infected tonsils which consists of white blood cells, the debris of cell and dead cells which is referred to as ‘pus’. When this pus gets trapped into soft tissues of tonsil an abscess is formed. This pus when leaks into blood lead to complications.



Group A Streptococci bacteria along with tonsillitis also causes inflammation of the kidneys called acute glomerulonephritis. Toxic substances from the blood are filtered through filtering screens in the kidneys known as glomeruli. When there is inflammation of the glomeruli ability of filtration decreases and blood toxicity increases, this condition is known as acute glomerulonephritis.

How is it Diagnosed?

The following are the tests and medical examinations conducted by a doctor to diagnose tonsillitis:

Inspection of the Throat

Tonsillitis can be diagnosed just by looking at the throat. In the case of tonsillitis, the throat appears red and congested and sometimes enlargement of tonsils is also seen.

Blood Test

Doctors recommend blood tests of the baby just to find out the number of lymphocytes. An increased number of lymphocytes indicates infection.

Throat Swab

Fluids from the tonsils can be collected by a cotton swab and can be sent to laboratories to diagnose tonsillitis. By throat swab, a doctor can also find the exact cause of tonsillitis.


Ears, Nose and Throat Examination

Infection of the throat can spread to ears and nose, so any symptom of ear and nose along with pain in throat indicates tonsillitis. Vice- versa of this is also possible.

Treatment of Tonsillitis in Babies

A mild form of tonsillitis does not require any treatment, it subsides when the baby is given proper nutrition and bed rest.

Antibiotics are prescribed by a doctor when it is bacterial tonsillitis. If the case is severe then the treatment of choice is surgery which is known as tonsillectomy in which tonsils are removed.

If a baby becomes dehydrated due to tonsillitis then intravenous fluids should be administered.

Tonsillectomy is indicated when:

  • There are recurrent episodes of tonsillitis throughout the year
  • Presence of any tumor in the throat or nose
  • Difficulty in swallowing and breathing due to obstructed airway passages
  • The swelling of the lymph nodes of the neck region persists for more than six months.

Home Remedies for Treatment of Tonsillitis

Few home remedies are as follows:


Bananas are one of the best remedies for babies because they are soft and easy to swallow.


Garlic has antibacterial and antiseptic property which gives fast relief to the baby. Crush garlic and boil it in water and give the liquid to the baby with the help of a dropper.


Steam soothes and heals the throat. Fill the bucket with hot water and close the doors and windows when the area is filled with steam then bring the baby to the area filled with steam

Breast Milk

There should be exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months. Because this milk is immune booster and antibodies present in it helps the baby to fight against infections.


Prevention of Tonsillitis

A child whose immune system is weak is more susceptible to tonsillitis. This can be prevented by encouraging hand washing and promoting good hygiene practices.

A child should regularly eat fruits because they are rich in antioxidants which helps to prevent tonsillitis.

Proper nutrition, fresh air and exposure to sunlight for a short period also helps in preventing tonsillitis.


Tonsillitis is an infection of tonsils, which can occur in any age group but common in children. There may be fever, sore throat, difficulty in breathing and swallowing. If the intensity of the pain increases then one should consult the doctor. Some of the home remedies also help in the treatment of tonsillitis but if the case is severe then tonsillectomy is to performed.