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Tonsillitis is one of the most common illnesses affecting children and teenagers and can cause a lot of pain and suffering. 

Most children have tonsillitis at some point between the ages of five and fifteen years.  Dr. Sandra Ettema, assistant professor of otolaryngology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield says tonsillitis is an inflammation in the back of the throat.   She describes some symptoms.

SOUND BITE:  “ . . . the main ones are difficulty swallowing and ear pain.   And the reason why they have ear pain is the nerves that kind of cause you to feel the pain run into the back of the throat and they run up through the middle ear and into the brain stem, so you . . . A lot of times when you have a sore throat or a runny nose.”

Dr. Ettema says symptoms for tonsillitis also include fever and chills and headache.  Swollen, enlarged tonsils can cause snoring and sleep apnea in children.  She explains some treatment options.

SOUND BITE:   “The treatment is generally antibiotics.  Most of the tonsillitis cases are caused by a group A streptococcus bacteria and that bacteria is very well treated with antibiotics -- usually approximately ten days.   If children experience more than a few between five and seven tonsillitis infections in a year, then we would start considering the more surgical options.” 

Dr. Ettema says if a child or adult has tonsillitis, it is very important to see a primary care physician for evaluation and possible treatment.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.