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Tonsils are the two lymph nodes located on each side of the back of your throat. They function as a defense mechanism. They help prevent your body from infection. When the tonsils become infected, the condition is called tonsillitis. Tonsillitis can occur at any age and is a common childhood infection. It is most often diagnosed in children from preschool age through their teens. Symptoms include a sore throat, swollen tonsils, and fever. Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils. A sore throat is the most common of all tonsillitis symptoms. In addition, you may also have a cough, high temperature (fever), headache, feel sick, feel tired, find swallowing painful, and have swollen neck glands. The tonsils may swell and become red. Pus may appear as white spots on the tonsils. Symptoms typically get worse over 2-3 days and then gradually go, usually within a week. The picture below shows inflamed tonsils. Treatment for tonsillitis depends on whether it is caused by a virus or by bacteria like group A streptococcus bacteria. Doctors usually can't tell the difference just by looking at the tonsils, but can detect strep bacteria with a rapid strep test or a throat culture. If a virus causes tonsillitis, the body will fight off the infection on its own. If strep bacteria cause it, the doctor probably will prescribe an antibiotic. If so, make sure that your child completes the full course of treatment. Surgery to remove the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy. This was once a very common procedure. However, tonsillectomies today are only recommended for people who experience chronic or recurrent tonsillitis. Surgery is also recommended to treat tonsillitis
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