How to Treat Tonsillitis

Updated on January 24, 2018
sparkleyfinger profile image

Lynsey has suffered years of ENT problems since childhood and as such has discovered ways to keep symptoms at bay!

Firstly, let me tell you that I am not a doctor, and this article should not replace any medical advice that you have received.

Secondly, let me tell you that I used to suffer from tonsillitis almost monthly until I became more proactive in dealing with it. Now, I very rarely need to go for antibiotics and can fight off a bout within around 3 days—that is, if I get a bout of tonsilitis at all. It has been around a year since my last attack, and I still have my tonsils intact.

I will share with you my methods in order to help you better understand tonsilitis and have the best chance at working through it as quickly as possible.

Prevent Spreading of Tonsillitis

Keep in mind that most infections are contagious. Try to take precautions to prevent the spread to others by following these tips:

  • Stay at home. Infecting your school/workplace will not help, no matter how great your intentions are.
  • Cough/sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it straight away.
  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash after eating, coughing, sneezing and using the toilet.
  • Keep antibacterial gel with you in case you can't use a wash hand basin.
  • Stick to your own personal space. No hugging/kissing.

What is Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis, in its simplest description, is inflammation of the tonsils caused by an infection of sorts. Once you get it, it is highly likely you will have a return attack, but the good news is that you can usually catch it in time before it develops, if you recognise the warning signs.

There are two main types of tonsillitis—bacterial and viral—and medical advice can differ for each.

Viral tonsillitis is usually caused by a common cold or flu, so you can find yourself coming down with it after a cold—double dunt or what?

Bacterial tonsillitis is caused by infection with Streptococcus bacteria. These infections are highly contagious and pass on to others easily.

Have you ever had tonsillitis?

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Symptoms of Tonsillitis

There are many symptoms of tonsillitis, including:

  • Sore throat—sometimes aggravated by swallowing
  • High temperature/chills
  • Redness of tonsils/back of throat.
  • Pus-filled blisters on the tonsils/throat.
  • A white or yellowish coating on the tonsils.
  • Hoarseness/loss of voice.
  • Ear/jaw pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Bad breath

If you have 3 or more of these symptoms, it is likely that you have bacterial tonsillitis, and antibiotics may be required. If you have one or two symptoms, it is likely you have viral tonsillitis, and most cases can be treated at home—your body will deal with it.

As with any illness, it can affect people in different ways. Children may also have vomiting and nausea, but these generally aren't symptoms that adults suffer with. As mentioned before, though, once you have had it, you will know the telltale signs of the onset of an attack. For me, it is when I feel a slight burn in the back of my throat for no apparent reason. Next, it becomes worse when I swallow. It is at this stage that I begin treating the infection.

Staying Comfortable With Tonsillitis

It is important that you do everything you can to prevent irritation of your throat. There is nothing worse than dry food scraping past your enflamed tonsils while you are in the midst of an attack. There are a few things you can do to avoid such torture:

  1. Drink plenty of cold, cold fluids.
  2. Eat friendly food. Noodles, soups, rice, even baby food! Generally, cool puddings, with little "bite" to them are ideal, such as rice pudding and custard. Smooth ice cream is perfect as it cools at the same time. Kid's seem to respond well to this part of the illness, funnily enough!
  3. Ice lollies are your friend—just plain fruit flavoured ones, or break out the Magnums if you wish. Iced treats help with the swelling in the back of the throat, and help with temperature regulating as well.
  4. Avoid hard, dry or scratchy foods, such as toast, crisps, rolls, bread etc. **This advice has actually been rubbished by a GP, who advised that eating scratchy foods is actually beneficial as it helps to scrape away some of the infection. Personally, I find that it is far too painful to do so, so this is something that you will have to test out for yourself- if it is bearable, then maybe eat some scratchy foods.

Treating Tonsillitis

I have devised this plan with the view to attack the source of tonsillitis, while treating the symptoms, too. I generally get rid of my symptoms after around 3 days, but I continue the routine for around 2-3 days after my symptoms have cleared.

  1. Firstly, I attack the germs in my throat with a daily dose of antibacterial mouthwash. I normally gargle with Listerine morning and night for as long as my mouth can handle it.
  2. I treat the pain using a mixture of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. You can take these together, but please be careful of the dosage instructions on the pack, and pay particular attention with children. I like to use dispersible paracetamol because I can gargle with it and it gives direct application to the site. The paracetamol helps fight the pain as well as the fever and can help regulate your temperature. Repeat the dose per packet instructions. The ibuprofen helps with swelling and reduces the size of the tonsils, which is important to resume normal eating/ swallowing functionality.
  3. I use Chloraseptic throat spray throughout the day, which usually has a numbing agent in it. Again, this attacks the bacteria and the pain at the same time, direct to the site. Again, stick to the packet dosing instructions.
  4. When the spray isn't convenient, I also use throat lozenges to keep everything hydrated. My favourite are Dequacaine lozenges, but I have had trouble getting these recently. I use TCP lozenges (don't worry, they don't taste like TCP) if Dequacaine isn't available. Both are like hard boiled sweets, but with an antiseptic and numbing agent mixed in. Bear in mind you shouldn't use both spray and lozenges- choose one for each dose, and use per packet instructions.
  5. Repeat this process each day.

Persistent Tonsillitis?

If you are still having symptoms after around 3-4 days, then it may be best to see a doctor, particularly if you suspect that you have the bacterial strain. They may be able to prescribe antibiotics if you have a persistent case.

Keep in mind that with all illnesses, plenty of rest and fluids is ideal, so rest up and get well soon!

What Did We Learn?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Lynsey Harte

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      • sparkleyfinger profile image
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        Lynsey Harte 3 years ago from Glasgow

        Hi beaddoodler, thanks for your comment! I like alternative suggestions, but I wrote my hub just from what works for me. The doctors are always too eager to give out antibiotics, and I now find them ineffective. That's why I try to avoid them. I'll try the tea next time, thanks!

      • Beaddoodler profile image

        Jennie Hennesay 3 years ago from Lubbock TX

        Tonsillitis was the bane of my childhood and of my youngest daughter's too. Back then doctors didn't know there was bacterial and viral tonsillitis. They just prescribed antibiotics. My parents' remedies were more primitive but effective. My daughter and I finally found that a strong sage tea with lemon and honey, gargled any time the soreness returned would take care of it in much less time than being treated by a doctor. She was allergic to some of the things you suggested, so we just went as natural as we could.

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