Tonsil infections are a common ailment for kids in Goodyear—a rite of passage for many. Doctors frequently turned to surgery in the past but are far less likely to pick up a scalpel nowadays, preferring to see if home remedies will do the trick instead.
What Is Tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis is an infection of your tonsils, two masses of tissue at the back of your throat.
Your tonsils act as filters, trapping germs that could otherwise enter your airways and cause infection. They also make antibodies to fight infection. But sometimes, they get overwhelmed by bacteria or viruses. This can make them swollen and inflamed.
Tonsillitis is common, especially in children. It can happen once in a while or come back again and again in a short period.
There are three types:
Acute tonsillitis. These symptoms usually last 3 or 4 days but can last up to 2 weeks.
Recurrent tonsillitis. This is when you get tonsillitis several times in a year.
Chronic tonsillitis. This is when you have a long-term tonsil infection.
The main symptoms of tonsillitis are inflamed and swollen tonsils, sometimes severe enough to make it hard to breathe through your mouth. Other symptoms include:
- Throat pain or tenderness
- Red tonsils
- A white or yellow coating on your tonsils
- Painful blisters or ulcers on your throat
- Loss of appetite
- Ear pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Swollen glands in your neck or jaw
- Fever and chills
- Bad breath
- A scratchy or muffled voice
- Stiff neck
Why the Tonsils are Prone to Infection
The tonsils are small, oval-shaped organs in the back of the throat made up of soft tissue. They serve as a defense mechanism, helping the immune system ward off bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, their frequent contact with germs makes them susceptible to inflammation and infection. This can lead to tonsillitis.
Viral infections are responsible for most cases of tonsillitis; bacterial infections make up between 15-30 percent of cases. Most children in Goodyear will suffer at least one case of tonsillitis while growing up. Because the tonsils begin to shrink around the age of 12, infections are much rarer in adults.
The go-to treatment for tonsillitis has long been surgical removal, but tonsillectomy has fallen out of favor in recent years; it’s viewed as an unnecessary procedure in otherwise health patients.
Increasing indoor humidity
Dry air can further irritate a sore throat. People with tonsillitis may benefit from using a cool mist humidifier. These devices release moisture back into the air, helping alleviate throat discomfort.
People should clean humidifiers daily to prevent the growth of harmful mold and bacteria.
Individuals who do not have access to a humidifier can instead try inhaling steam from a hot shower or bath.
Gargling with salt water
Gargling with salt water may temporarily soothe pain or tickling in the back of the throat.
People can make a saltwater mixture by adding a quarter of a teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water and stirring the solution until the salt dissolves.
They can then gargle with the salt water for a few seconds before spitting it out. It is safe to repeat the process as often as necessary as long as the person avoids swallowing the mixture.
Gargling is not suitable for younger children as there is a risk that they will inhale the fluid and choke.
Avoiding hard foods
For people with tonsillitis, eating hard or sharp foods can be uncomfortable and even painful.
Hard foods may scratch the throat, leading to further irritation and inflammation. Foods to avoid include:
- dry cereal
- raw carrots
- raw apples
People should try eating softer foods that are easier to swallow or stick to soups, broths, or chilled smoothies until their symptoms subside.
Eating cold foods
Eating cold, soft foods, such as frozen yogurt or ice cream, can numb the throat, offering temporary pain relief.
People can also try the following:
- sucking on popsicles
- drinking chilled smoothies
- sipping ice cold water
Drinking plenty of warm liquids
Drinking warm liquids, including soups, broths, and teas, can help soothe a sore throat.
Herbal teas containing ingredients such as honey, pectin, or glycerine may help, as these ingredients form a protective film over the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat, which might soothe irritation.
However, there is only weak evidence that herbal teas help treat the symptoms of tonsillitis.
MIMI (Multi ion mask insert)
- Can be worn with any facemask and provides additional heavy-duty protection.
- Adult & Youth Sizes Available
Avoiding straining the voice
Swelling in the throat can cause the voice to become muffled. It may be tempting to counter this by raising the voice, but doing so risks further throat irritation.
If speaking is painful, a person should try to rest the voice as much as possible. They should also make an appointment with the doctor, as having difficulty speaking can sometimes indicate a complication.
Getting plenty of rest
People with tonsillitis should get as much rest as possible. Resting will allow the body to fight off the viral or bacterial infection.
Continuing to go to work or school not only increases the likelihood of a person being ill for longer, but it may also put others at risk of catching the infection.
Over-the-counter pain relievers
OTC analgesics can help relieve a sore throat, fever, and other painful symptoms of tonsillitis. Examples of these drugs include:
Aspirin is not suitable for children as it can cause a life threatening illness called Reye’s syndrome.
Taking analgesics at regular intervals can help sustain pain relief throughout the day.
Medicated throat lozenges
Some throat lozenges contain anesthetic medications to numb and soothe the throat. Many also contain anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and inflammation.
One of the benefits of throat lozenges is that they deliver pain relief directly to the site of inflammation.
Some lozenges also contain antiseptic agents. These help target the bacteria responsible for bacterial tonsillitis.
However, lozenges are not suitable for young children as they pose a choking risk. Some also contain benzocaine, which can have adverse effects in this population. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise parents and caregivers to avoid giving products containing benzocaine to children younger than 2 years unless a doctor recommends it.
Throat sprays and gargles
Throat sprays and gargles are another way to deliver anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic medications directly to the throat.
People can look for throat sprays with one of the following active ingredients:
- benzocaine, for older children and adults only
- benzyl alcohol
- cetylpyridinium chloride
- chlorhexidine gluconate
When to see a doctor
If tonsillitis doesn’t resolve after a few days or is accompanied by the following symptoms, make an appointment with a Goodyear ear, nose and throat specialist for further evaluation:
- A sore throat that lasts more than two days
- Pain so severe it interferes with eating and drinking
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Extreme weakness and fatigue
- A fever that lasts longer than three days
Tonsillitis is a common condition that can affect both children and adults.
Most cases of tonsillitis resolve without treatment within a few days. In the meantime, a range of home remedies and OTC treatments can help relieve bothersome symptoms.
Tonsillitis may sometimes result in more serious complications. People should see a doctor if they experience new symptoms or if their original symptoms persist or become worse.