Pharyngitis & Tonsillitis in Children

What are pharyngitis and tonsillitis?

Pharyngitis and tonsillitis are infections that cause inflammation and soreness in the throat. When the pharynx, between the tonsils and the voicebox, is affected, its called pharyngitis, and when the tonsils are affected it’s called tonsillitis. If your child has inflammation of both the pharynx and the tonsils, its called pharyngotonsillitis.

These viral or bacterial infections most often occur in the winter and colder months, and when your child Is in close contact with other people. Nearly all children will have pharyngitis and tonsillitis at some point during their childhood.

What causes pharyngitis and tonsillitis?

There are many causes for infections in the throat, including viruses, bacteria, fungal and parasitic infections and cigarette smoke.

Common viruses include:

Common bacteria include:

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, while for others, symptom onset is slow. There are several common symptoms, but each child may experience pharyngitis and tonsillitis differently.

Symptoms may include:

  • sore throat
  • fever (either low grade or high)
  • Headaches
  • decrease in appetite
  • not feeling well
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach aches
  • painful swallowing

How we care for pharyngitis and tonsillitis

The Boston Children's Hospital Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Enhancement is the oldest, largest and one of the most recognized centers for pediatric otolaryngology in the U.S. Our team specializes in caring for infectious and inflammatory conditions of the ear, nose and throat, including pharyngitis and tonsillitis. Because our focus is children, we have the experience and expertise to offer the very best treatment