Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis

  • Local approach to strep throat
    Andrew Fine and Kenneth Mandl of the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP) and  Department of Emergency Medicine found that using a more local approach to examining strep throat populations  could help diagnose 62,000 cases per year in the United States, which may otherwise go unnoticed. Learn more about the potential benefits of a local approach to studying and controlling strep throat in the Children’s newsroom.

    Boston Children's Hospital 
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115

  • What causes pharyngitis and tonsillitis?

    There are many causes of infections in the throat. The following are the most common infectious agents:

  • What are the symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis?

    The symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis depend greatly on the cause of the infection and the person affected. For some children, the onset of symptoms may be quick; for others, symptom onset is slow. There are several common symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis, but each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

    • sore throat
    • fever (either low grade or high)
    • headache
    • decrease in appetite
    • not feeling well
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • stomach aches
    • painful swallowing
    • visual redness or drainage in the throat

    How are pharyngitis and tonsillitis diagnosed?

    In most cases, it is hard to distinguish between a viral sore throat and a strep throat based on a physical examination. It is very important to know if the sore throat is "strep" (caused by GABHS), because it will require antibiotic treatment to help prevent the complications associated with these bacteria.

    As a result, most children, when they have the above symptoms, will receive a strep test and throat culture to determine if the infection is caused by GABHS. This usually involves a throat swab (called quick tests or rapid strep tests) in the physician's office.

    This may immediately become positive for GABHS and antibiotics will be started. If it is negative, part of the throat swab will be kept for a throat culture. This will further identify, in two to three days, if there is any GABHS present. Your child's physician will decide the treatment plan based on the findings.

  • How will my child be treated for pharyngitis or tonsillitis?

    If bacteria are not causing the infection, then the treatment is focused on comfort for your child. Antibiotics will not help treat viral sore throats. Treatment may include:

    • acetaminophen (for pain)
    • increased fluid intake
    • throat lozenges
    • antibiotics (if the cause of the infection is bacterial, not viral)
Request an Appointment

If this is a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1. This form should not be used in an emergency.

Patient Information
Date of Birth:
Contact Information
Appointment Details
Send RequestIf you do not see the specialty you are looking for, please call us at: 617-355-6000.International visitors should call International Health Services at +1-617-355-5209.
Please complete all required fields

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

Thank you.

Your request has been successfully submitted

You will be contacted within 1 business day.

If you have questions or would like more information, please call:

617-355-6000 +1-617-355-6000
Find a Doctor
Search by Clinician's Last Name or Specialty:
Select by Location:
Search by First Letter of Clinician's Last Name: *ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Condition & Treatments
Search for a Condition or Treatment:
View allSearch
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO