Sore Throats

Acute sore throats are often part of a cold and benefit from painkillers but not antibiotics as the cause is viral. A few will progress to a more prolonged and severe illness which is bacterial (commonly Streptococcus) and which does benefit from antibiotics. Glandular fever is a viral illness and should be suspected if severe tonsillitis does not respond to antibiotics.

Recurrent sore throats. In some children the tonsils do not return to normal between infections and are susceptible to further infections. In general, if these occur at least 3-5 times per year and are causing problems (time off school etc) it is sensible to consider treatment. Long courses of antibiotics in the winter may help but have side effects of diarrhoea and thrush. Tonsillectomy has been shown to help but requires a general anaesthetic, can be sore and has a small risk of postoperative bleeding. A balanced and informed decision needs to be made about surgery.