Tonsillitis is an inflammation or infection of the tonsils. The tonsils are two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat and there is one tonsil on each side.
The symptoms of tonsillitis are swollen tonsils, sore throat and difficulty swallowing. Our tonsils are part of the immune system, which helps the body fight infection.
Tonsillitis often goes away on its own after about 4 to 10 days.
What’s the cause of tonsillitis?
Usually, tonsillitis is caused by a virus. But sometimes it’s caused by the same bacteria that causes “strep throat.”
Only in very rare cases, is it caused by a fungus or a parasite.
Tonsillitis is spread through droplets in the air, when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.
You can become infected after breathing in these droplets, getting them on your skin or from objects that come in contact with your mouth, nose, or eyes.
The main symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat. The throat and tonsils are usually red and swollen. They may have spots on them, pus that covers them completely or just in patches.
Fever is not uncommon.
NOTE: If you feel like you have a cold, with symptoms of runny, stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, a virus is most likely the cause.
NOTE: If you have a sore throat, plus a sudden severe fever and swollen lymph nodes, but, you don’t have any symptoms of a cold, the infection is more likely to be from bacteria.
This means you should have a doctor give you a strep test.
How is tonsillitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will look at your throat, and may do a rapid strep test along with a throat culture.
This will show your doctor whether the tonsillitis is caused by “streptococcus bacteria,” or simply a virus.
If your doctor thinks that you have mono, he’ll probably give you a test for mononucleosis.
Tonsillitis caused by a virus usually goes away on its own.
You can ease throat pain if you gargle with salt water, drink warm tea, take OTC pain medicine, and use other home remedies.
Don’t give aspirin to anyone under 20 years or younger. It has been linked to the serious disease called “Reye syndrome.”
If your tonsillitis is caused by strep bacteria, you will most likely be treatment with antibiotics.
Antibiotics can help prevent rare but serious problems caused by strep, and help control the spread of infection. But, anytime you use antibiotics, you need to replace all the good bacteria that has been destroyed from your use of the antibiotics.
As a rule, doctors only advise surgery to remove tonsils, (tonsillectomy) when there are serious problems with the tonsils.
These include frequent infections, long-lasting infections that don’t get better after treatment. It’s still your choice after consulting with your doctor.
Tonsillitis most commonly affects children between preschool ages and mid-teen years.
Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:
Enlarged tender glands in the neck
Scratchy, muffled or throaty voice
Red swollen tonsils
White or yellow coating patches on the tonsils
Stomachache, (in younger children)
Signs of tonsillitis in children who are unable to describe how they feel, may include:
Refusal to eat
Drooling from painful swallowing
Call your doctor if your child is experiencing:
A sore throat that doesn’t go away with the first drink or two in the morning
Painful or difficult swallowing
Extreme weakness, fatigue or fussiness
Get to your doctor for care immediately if your child:
Has difficulty breathing
Extreme difficulty swallowing
Herbal Remedies for Tonsillitis:
Echinacea, garlic, myrrh, sage and wild indigo all help boost the immune system.
Limeflowers, chamomile, elderflowers and yarrow are suppose to reduce fever.
Painful tonsils may be soothed with comfrey, marshmallow and mullein.
Raspberry leaves, elderflowers or agrimony can be used to clear catarrh, (a disorder of inflammation of the mucous membranes) and mucous.
Gargling with a mixture of lavender and chamomile may reduce fever, headaches and pain.
A mild tea made from elderflowers, peppermint and yarrow leaves can be taken daily until the tonsillitis clears.
Garlic is great for any kind of throat infection, including tonsillitis. An onion and garlic soup are excellent foods to eat for tonsillitis.
Include spices like horseradish, ginger, and mustard seed.
Blackberry root and persimmon have traditionally been used as a remedy for tonsillitis.
Echinacea enhances immunity and combined with goldenseal, they make a potent antiseptic and antibiotic.
Black nightshade is also good as a healing herb for tonsillitis.