Authored by L. Renee Vinec in Diseases
Published on 09-06-2009
An infection causes swollen tonsils in most cases. Tonsils are soft lumps of tissue on each of the back of the throat, just behind the soft palate. They are part of the immune system. Their job is to trap bacteria and viruses. When tonsils become infected, they produce infection fighting antibodies called lymphocytes. It is the accumulation of lymphatic tissue that causes swollen tonsils, also called tonsillitis.
Infections are viral or bacterial. Children usually get viral infections while adults get bacterial infections. That isn’t a hard and fast rule though. A child with swollen tonsils may be infected with bacteria called streptococcus, or strep. The signs of strep throat include a fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes gray to white patches appear at the back of the throat. Left untreated, strep throat can turn into rheumatic fever, a rare condition that attacks the heart. Don’t hesitate to contact a pediatrician, if you spot the signs of strep throat. Most doctors prescribe antibiotics, one of the most effective remedies for strep throat.
Swollen tonsils in adults may indicate the body’s immunity is lower than normal. Some people have chronic bouts of tonsillitis. If left untreated, tonsillitis can develop into a peritonsillar abscess, a condition that causes an obstructed airway and breathing difficulty. One of the traditional remedies for chronic tonsillitis was a tonsillectomy, or surgical removal of the tonsils. Though tonsillectomies are less common today, you should still consult a doctor, if you suspect chronic tonsillitis.
Home remedies for swollen tonsils help ease discomfort, but they should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s prescribed healthcare. If you cannot see a physician right away, the following remedies may provide relief. With appropriate healthcare, they may even speed up recovery:
- Take acetaminophen. Some pain relievers help reduce inflammation.
- Get lots of rest. Fighting an infection is taxing on the body. Take it easy and get plenty of sleep.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Water provides necessary hydration to fight infection. Orange juice has the vitamin C to boost the immune system’s response. Add honey and lemon to a glass of warm water to soothe a sore throat. Or, sip herbal tea with chamomile. It has analgesic properties that reduce swollen tonsils.
- Gargle with salt water. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water and gargle three times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
- Use throat lozenges. Zinc lozenges act as an immunostimulant that aids in healing.
- Eat soft foods. Consume foods that are easy on the throat, such as soup, gelatin, pudding, yogurt or frozen fruit pops.
- Take Vitamin B. A vitamin B complex helps maintain oral health. Vitamin B-6 reduces swelling.
- Plug in a cool mist humidifier. Moisture reduces the likelihood that mucous membranes will become dry and irritated. The steam also stimulates blood flow to mucous membranes, which also promotes healing.
Remember swollen tonsils can indicate an infection. If, after trying remedies for swollen tonsils, you do not improve within a couple of days, call your doctor. Prescribed healthcare combined with home remedies can effectively treat swollen tonsils.