recurrent tonsillitis in children - boy with sore throat spray

Recurrent tonsillitis in children – our experience

Recurrent tonsillitis is horrible and it’s not made everything while we’ve been at home as good as it might have been.

In so many ways, we’ve been lucky for lockdown. Living on the farm means there’s some normality – the OH has been working as normal. Apart from staying at a distance from the in laws for the first few weeks, once the 2 weeks+ risk of catching Covid was over, we’re still all on the farm together, and they’re still heading out for shepherding and walking the dog, so N has been able to still see them. There are also lodgers, so there have been people around even if we’ve not been mixing with others. The space means we’ve not felt restricted like we might have been living in a flat with no space or garden. 

I’m not a fan of working from home and the longer it goes on, the harder it’s been. But at least home school has been generally fine. N gets on with his work, and while he’ll avoid writing a story as much as possible, he’ll do everything else. He also gets to spend a lot more time on the farm, and let’s just say he’s learnt a lot more about the birds and the bees from learning about the bulls, artificial insemination and other things he seems to be obsessed about that I’m probably not ready for him to be just chatting about at dinner!

But tonsillitis has put a downer on several weeks while he’s been at home. 

recurrent tonsillitis in children - boy with sore throat spray

Before last September, N had probably only had tonsillitis 2 or 3 times since starting school. He’s never really felt ill with it. Just a sore throat, but has felt fine in himself. The pain while eating and trying to sleep in the evening was the biggest struggle. Previously he’s only usually had 1 day off school each time if he’s been ill at the start of it over a weekday. 

But this last year, he’s not had a good time of it. Each time it’s been bacterial tonsillitis with those telltale while spots all over his tonsils. I’m getting pro with a torch, and he even has a look himself in the mirror.

You expect tonsillitis to appear over the winter – he had it in September and November. But since February half term, he’s had it numerous times. Since lockdown he’s had recurrent tonsillitis – he’s just getting over the 5th bout during lockdown. So that’s 8 times since September. And it’s not getting easier.

Now he’s not at school, he’s feeling worse each time. I reckon it’s often easier being ill when you’re on the go and not having to think about it. But he’s not been able to forget as .

N’s even gone to bed or has fallen asleep on the floor in his den. He’s also found he’s tired for 2-3 days, even after starting antibiotics. He’s not been managing to do school work when he’s been ill (although hasn’t had a problem watching Youtube). Antibiotics are still kicking at after 48 hours so at least his throat’s less painful and swollen. But it’s taking another day before he’s back on a normal home school routine.

Luckily this latest bout, he just felt better in time to go to his puppy training session. After 4 days he was eating fine, although he had to work back up to his normal appetite.

The previous time, the doctor had suggested she refer him to ENT to discuss having the tonsils taken out. Given I had mine out age 5 due to always having tonsillitis, and it was the best thing we did, I’m all for him having them out. The OH also gets tonsillitis, although has had a year off catching it 

Tonsillitis referral

Of course, getting referred is easier said than done. At the moment with Covid, ENT departments are now working on Covid patients, so you can’t even book an appointment. The referral time has gone up from 18 weeks when we first got referred, to 21 weeks at one of our options, and a massive 39 weeks in our own county. If N keeps getting ill into the autumn term, year 5 of school could be a nightmare, with him having lots of time off sick before he gets seen.

I’ve even tried contacting nearby private hospitals to see how long that would take, but they’re in the same position as NHS doctors, having moved to help out the NHS with Covid. They might start doing children’s surgery again in 6 months, but it’s an unknown. So poor N could be stuck getting tonsillitis every 3 weeks for a long time. I’m just hoping this is as bad as it gets, and he doesn’t end up being hospitalised for any complications.

My concern in the meantime is the ongoing antibiotics. If it was me, I’d just dose up on over the counter, cough medicine and throat sprays. But I can’t remember the pain, the OH does says antibiotics are the only thing that eases his before 5 days. I suppose when it wipes you out that much, you’ll take whatever will help.

So we’re at the waiting stage. 

Waiting for ENT appointments to be opened.

Then waiting for the appointment.

And potentially having to fight to get them to agree to a tonsillectomy.

In the meantime, hope that this last bout is it for a while. While he’s not in school again til September, we want to keep the home school routine. We want to get him back playing tennis a couple of times a week. And once county training starts again we want him to be well enough to play and train for 3 hours at a time.

If tonsillitis returns and keeps returning, he’s going to miss so much.

The alternative is that the tonsillitis stops and he’s just had one bad year. Children are meant to grow out of it, but N has seemed to go the other way. Fingers crossed this is the worst it gets

I’ve been reading up on recurrent tonsillitis in the meantime. There is evidence that some people are genetically more susceptible, with some immunity cell issues being hereditary which leads to more tonsillitis. So I’m just hoping that N will be able to have a tonsillectomy at some point.

Edit: Thankfully by the end of the pandemic, N’s tonsillitis seems to have largely been grown out of. He’s down to once a year, and we manage to hold it off and reduce it to a fairly minor illness that doesn’t need antibiotics. Read how we cope with his tonsillitis, following the discussions we had with his consultant.

Do your children suffer from tonsillitis?

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