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Exudative Tonsillitis in Children: Understanding the Symptoms and Treatments

Published | 5 min read

Exudative tonsillitis is one of the most common diseases in children with symptoms like pain when swallowing and high fever. Learn how to manage the condition at home.

Asian boy with sore throat touching his neck.

Flu season is here and exudative tonsilitis is one of the common illnesses your child might catch. It is the infection of the tonsils, a pair of oval-shaped tissues located at the back of the throat, one on each side. They are a part of the lymphatic system and work to protect the body against infections. Their position in the mouth gives them a unique advantage in attacking microorganisms that enter the body through the mouth and nose.

Severe inflammation causes the tonsils to exude a fluid made of cells and proteins as they work towards killing the organisms causing the infection. Here are how exudative tonsillitis happens and the symptoms. 

Causes and Symptoms of Exudative Tonsillitis

A doctor checking out a young girl’s throat
Children might have symptoms including a sore throat and throat redness if they have exudative tonsillitis.

The most common cause of exudative tonsillitis is viral or bacterial infections that cause the throat to become inflamed. When bacteria or viruses enter the nose or mouth and infect the lining of the oral cavity, they cause irritation, inflammation and redness in the area, and can cause the secretion of tonsillar exudates.

Tonsillar exudates are also seen following viral throat infections. In addition to exudative tonsillitis, children may also suffer from fever, sore throat, ear pain and throat redness.

Other common symptoms of tonsillitis are difficulty or pain while swallowing, fever, hoarseness of voice, bad breath, stomach ache, headache and neck pain. Young children who are unable to explain how they feel may refuse to eat food, drool due to difficulty in swallowing and be fussy in general. 

TCM’s Take on Exudative Tonsillitis 

Physician Anita Pee at Eu Yan Sang TCM clinic says in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the aetiology and pathology of throat pain can involve multiple pathogens. These are Wind, Cold, Fire, Damp-Heat, Blood Stasis and phlegm.

Throat conditions can also be due to Yin Deficiency of the Lungs, Spleen, Stomach, Heart, small intestines and Kidneys. All these collectively arise from stress, an unbalanced work-rest lifestyle, and unhealthy eating habits. 

Treatment of Exudative Tonsillitis

A young Asian girl drinking water from her glass
Make sure your child drinks enough water and stays well hydrated.

Exudative tonsillitis usually lasts for three to five days. Streptococcal pharyngitis needs treatment with antibiotics to kill the infectious organism and prevent disease complications. Hence, it is important to diagnose and treat the infection early. Consult your paediatrician if your child has a sore throat with fever, a sore throat that persists for more than 48 hours, pain while swallowing, or extreme weakness.

For other causes of exudative tonsillitis, treatment should focus on controlling the symptoms and making the patient more comfortable. 

Symptomatic treatment 

Lots of warm fluids and rest are key. Ensure your child drinks plenty of water. Warm and soothing herbal teas like chrysanthemum tea will help ease throat pain and enhance their immune system to fight infections. For severe throat pain, they may use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or acetaminophen. Saltwater gargles also help to fight throat infections and relieve discomfort. 

Herbal remedies 

Several Chinese herbal medicines are efficacious in treating tonsillitis and sore throat. These include the following: 

  • Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin (普济消毒饮) 
  • Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang (养阴清肺汤) 
  • Bai He Gu Jin Tang (百合固金汤) 
  • Jin Sang Qing Yin Pian (金嗓清音片) 
  • Watermelon frost (西瓜霜) 
  • Seaweed (海藻) 
  • Danshen root (丹参) 
  • Honey (蜂蜜)
  • Figwort root (玄参) 

Before giving your child any herbal remedies, it’s advised that you consult with a registered TCM practitioner for an assessment to find the right medicine for your child’s condition and body composition. 


Acupressure is an easy self-help remedy that can help relieve the symptoms of mild exudative tonsillitis. Real Medical Senior Physician Brandon Yew says that the therapy is largely free of side effects and can be easily performed at home.

Place your fingers or blunt object like a massage stick on certain acupoints and apply pressure until you feel soreness or tenderness at the site. Massage clockwise and anticlockwise directions 20 times each. Repeat for at least three minutes per acupoint.

The acupoints that might help are:  

  • Yu ji (LU10, 鱼际) 
  • Chi ze (LU5, 尺泽) 
  • Tian tu (RN22, 天突) 
  • He gu (LI4, 合谷) 
  • Lie que (LU7, 列缺) 
  • Zhao hai (KI6, 照海) 

Exudative tonsillitis can be a very painful condition that can disrupt your child’s schedule and makes them cranky. Try these natural remedies to reduce pain and hasten their recovery. 


  1. Osmosis. Tonsillar exudate.  [Accessed on 4 July 2022].  
  2. Mayo Clinic. Tonsillitis  [Accessed on 4 July 2022] 
  3. Cochrane Library. Chinese medicinal herbs. 2012.  [Accessed on 4 July 2022] 

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