Sore Throat – Is it Tonsillitis?

Sore throat, fussy baby not wanting to eat – is it Tonsillitis? Meg Faure explains what symptoms to look out for and when to call the doctor. 


This is a viral infection that causes a hoarse voice and harsh cough. The cough is quite painful and the voice is soft. The infection only lasts a few days and gets better without treatment.


Our tonsils are found in the back of the mouth on either side just beyond the little tongue (uvula). The tonsils are an important part of the immune system in the first few years of age but have no real purpose after about 4 years of age. Children with tonsillitis have high fever, sore throats and decreased eating and or drinking. The throat is red and the tonsils are swollen and have yellow infected areas on them.

Effect on feeding

Your baby will have a sore throat and will not be interested in feeding or may cry whenever he has to swallow.

What to do

Tonsillitis is a very common illness and is caused by either viruses or bacteria – you can’t tell which just by looking at the throat but we know that tonsillitis under 2 years of age is almost always due to viruses and should not be treated with antibiotics. The most important bacteria causing tonsillitis is a Streptococcus called a Group A streptococcus and this needs to be treated with antibiotics.

When to call the doctor

  • If the fever has not settled in 48 hours on therapy
  • If your baby is snoring badly when sleeping
  • If your baby has difficulty breathing
  • If your baby is refusing to drink or eat



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