Tonsillitis remedies at home


5 Effective Home Remedies For Tonsils

I was eight years-old when I was told by my doctor that I had swollen tonsils and I could either get them operated or take medicines to subside the swelling. Keeping my age in mind, everyone thought it was best that I stick to medicines. Although it seemed the better choice, it came with a handful of dos and don’ts. Ever since that day, I have to think twice before eating anything extremely cold (yes, ice creams included, and also iced teas, chilled water, popsicles et al). I dread the times when I catch a cold and cough as it is painful, with the constant coughing that hurts the throat. What are tonsils and how do they get infected? That’s a question that revolves around everyone’s head. Swollen tonsils are one of the most common problems in India. According to Dr. Amal Ghosh, Tutor (Rtd), N.R.S. Hospital, Kolkata, “The tonsils are part of your body’s system to fight infections. The tonsils play an important role as part of your body’s immune system, helping to fight off viral and bacterial infections before they reach the respiratory tract and other parts of the body. The tonsils contain certain cells that trap any infection entering your body. At times, however, the tonsils themselves may get infected by the very same germs that they work to resist. When this happens, the tonsils get swollen and inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. In some cases, the tonsils pain get unbearable and may show white spots covering the surface, indicating an infection.” Having said that, here are some easy home remedies to treat tonsils.

Here Are Some Of The Home Remedies For Tonsils

1. Salt Water
According to Dr. Ghosh, the best and most well-known home remedy for tonsillitis is to do gargling with warm salt water. “The warm water will have a soothing effect and the salt will help kill the infection or bacteria. Plus, salt helps reduce inflammation, giving you instant relief.”
Here’s how you do it:

  • Mix one teaspoon of table salt in a cup of warm water.
  • Gargle with the solution. Do not swallow it. Spit the water out after gargling.
  • Repeat this as often as possible for speedy recovery.

(Also Read: 6 Brilliant Home Remedies for a Throat Infection)

Do gargling with warm salt water for tonsillitis.

2. Tulsi
Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is another exceptionally viable home remedy for tonsillitis because of its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to that, its healing and soothing qualities will help reduce swelling and pain as well as speed up the healing process. According to Dr. Simran Saini from New Delhi, “Consuming a drink made by boiling tulsi leaves and adding about 2 grams of black pepper to it can help in bringing relief. This drink helps in building your immunity, acts as an antibacterial element.”
Follow these steps:

  • Add 10 to 12 basil leaves to one and one-half cups of water.
  • Boil for 10 minutes.
  • Strain and add the juice from one lemon to the solution. Optionally, add one teaspoon of honey to sweeten it or 2 grams of black pepper to spice it up.
  • Drink this three times a day for two to three days.

Tulsi has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Cinnamon
According to Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager at Baidyanath, cinnamon can be used for treating tonsillitis. “Being rich in antimicrobial properties, cinnamon represses the growth of bacteria and other micro-organisms in the tonsils and helps reduce swelling, pain and inflammation.”
Here’s how to use it:

  • Add one teaspoon of cinnamon powder to a glass of hot water.
  • Mix in two teaspoons of honey.
  • Sip on it slowly while it is still warm.
  • Drink this two or three times a day for one week.

(Also Read: Natural Healing: 7 Home Remedies for a Dry Throat)

Cinnamon can be used for treating tonsillitis

4. Turmeric
Turmeric due to its strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities, can also fight off tonsillitis infection and relieve irritation symptoms. According to author Deepak Chopra of The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, “Ayurveda recommends using 1 cup of hot water (not so hot that it might burn your throat) with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt mixed in. Gargle with this mixture morning and evening.” It is particularly helpful before going to bed. It will help get rid of the inflammation and soreness.
Alternatively, you can add one teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of ground black pepper to a glass of warm milk. Drink it at night for two to three days to speed up the healing process.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities.

5. Fenugreek
The Health Education Library for People suggests that fenugreek, also known as methi, has antibacterial properties that makes it an excellent remedy for tonsillitis as it can fight against the bacteria responsible for tonsillitis. Plus, the anti-inflammatory properties present in fenugreek will give you instant relief from pain and inflammation.
Here’s how to use it:

  • Add two tablespoons of fenugreek seeds to two to three cups of water.
  • Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Strain and let it cool.
  • Gargle with this water for at least 30 seconds, and then spit it out.
  • Repeat twice daily until you get comfort.

Fenugreek has antibacterial properties that is an excellent remedy for tonsillitis.

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

Common signs and symptoms of tonsillitis include:painful swollen tonsils
sore throat, difficulty swallowing normally, tender lymph nodes on the sides of the throat and neck, redness surrounding the tonsils and throat, fever or chills, white or yellow coating on the tonsils, painful blisters or ulcers on the throat, changes in the ability to talk, loss of voice, headaches, pain in the ears and neck, and bad breath.


The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Sore Throat

Pain relief

Know the warning signs when to call the doctor if your sore throat persists

Not only are sore throats painful, but they also are one of the top reasons for doctor visits and sick days.

It starts as a persistent tickle in the back of your throat before the sensation progresses into a prickly sensation every time you swallow. The trick to treating a sore throat is knowing when it’s time to make the transition from at-home therapy to seeing the doctor.

“A sore throat can be caused by any number of factors, including a common cold, low humidity, smoking, air pollution, yelling, or nasal drainage,” says Brett M. Scotch, DO, an osteopathic physician from Wesley Chapel, Florida.

There are other less common causes for a sore throat, which can include strep throat, mononucleosis (otherwise known as “mono”) or tonsillitis.

Looking for ways to treat mono?
Find out how on

Home treatment

When it come to treating a sore throat, you can try:

  • Gargling at least once an hour with warm salt water to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Drinking hot fluids such as tea or soup, which soothe the throat and help thin sinus mucus allowing for better drainage and decreased stuffiness.
  • Stopping smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Taking nonprescription medications, such as throat lozenges, decongestants, acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

Seeing a physician

In most cases, your sore throat will improve with at-home treatment. However, it’s time to see your doctor if a severe sore throat and a fever over 101 degrees lasts longer than one to two days; you have difficulty sleeping because your throat is blocked by swollen tonsils or adenoids; or a red rash appears.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it could mean that you have a bacterial infection. In that case, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat your infection.

“For adults who have repeated bacterial throat infections within a relatively short period of time, a physician may recommend a tonsillectomy,” says Dr. Scotch.

Your doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy (the surgical removal of the tonsils) if:

  • Abscesses of the tonsils do not respond to drainage.
  • There is a persistent foul odor or taste in the mouth that does not respond to antibiotics.
  • A biopsy is needed to evaluate a suspected tumor of the tonsil.

“However, a tonsillectomy should always be the last resort for treating sore throats,” warns Dr. Scotch. “The best treatment for a sore throat is prevention.”


You can prevent a sore throat by replacing your toothbrush every month and tossing an old toothbrush once you’ve recovered from a sore throat to prevent re-infection. You should also refrain from smoking, which can be abrasive to the throat.

“Be sure to wash your hands often, eat right and get plenty of sleep,” advises Dr. Scotch. ​​​​

Home Remedies for Managing Tonsillitis

Over-the-Counter Medication Can Reduce Pain and Fever

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers are recommended to help pain and discomfort associated with tonsillitis, especially if you are having trouble swallowing, Clark says. Follow the recommendations on the packaging and be sure to check with your doctor if you have concerns or questions.

Recommended pain relievers include: (1)

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

Both pain relievers have different advantages and potential downsides, Clark adds:

  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen have both been shown to reduce throat pain in randomized studies and will also help reduce inflammation and fever. (3)
  • There is some data to suggest that ibuprofen is more effective for pain than acetaminophen, but the difference is small. (3)
  • The risk profile for acetaminophen and ibuprofen are similar, although it has been suggested that ibuprofen should be avoided in dehydrated patients due to the increased risk for kidney damage. (4)
  • Aspirin should be avoided in children as it can cause Reye syndrome. (5)

What does not work to help with tonsillitis (at least not according to any existing evidence) are probiotics or other complementary and alternative therapies, such as herbal therapies, homeopathic therapies, and dietary supplements, Clark says. And it’s important to know that in some cases these therapies may be harmful, he adds. Be sure to check with your doctor if you are unsure about an alternative therapy that you want to try.

How To Cure Tonsils At Home (WITH STEPS&IMAGES)

How To Cure Tonsils At Home

Tonsils are daunting! They are a literal pain in the ass. They are absolutely unwanted and create unnecessary havoc as in when they come in the picture. When tonsils take charge they completely ask you to shove it up and you are left with no other option other than sulking and blaming the whole goddamn universe for it. But what can one actually do now to get themselves off the hook? Don’t you worry we literally have the apt solutions in the form of home remedies for you. But before that you must know what tonsils are so that you don’t confuse it with anything else and what are its causes and symptoms.

Tonsils are basically the lymph nodes that are located on both the sides of the back of your throat. They are a part of the defence mechanism to fight the undesired infection that has entered your body. When these tonsils get infected then it results in a condition called TONSILITIS which in layman language we call the problem of tonsils. This can occur at any point in time. It doesn’t really matter if you are a kid or an aged man because age is no bar for attracting the disease. But children from preschool till they reach mid-teens are more prone to the problem.

Tonsillitis can be of two types which are as follows: –

  • Recurrent tonsillitis- This one is wherein there are multiple episodes of acute tonsillitis in a single year.
  • Chronic Tonsillitis- This one is where episodes of tonsillitis last longer than those of acute tonsillitis.

Causes of tonsillitis

As I rightly mentioned above that tonsils are your first stage of resistance against illness. Tonsils produce white blood cells to help your body strong arm against infection. They combat bacterial and virus that cross the threshold into your body through your mouth. Despite all this hard work they are also times that they become vulnerable to all these external forces.

Tonsillitis can be caused by virus like common cold or any other bacterial infection like strep throat. Viruses are the most common cause. The Epstein Barr virus is one that also causes mononucleosis. Since tonsillitis is contagious children mostly come in contact with others at school or at a park bring them in close proximity with variety of viruses and bacteria which makes them vulnerable to germs that can cause tonsils.

Symptoms of tonsillitis

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There are multiple symptoms of tonsils that you must know to diagnose it as quickly as possible

  • Awfully sore throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Scratchy- sounding tone
  • Bad breath
  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Pain in the ear
  • Stomach aches
  • Headaches
  • A terribly stiff neck
  • Jaw and neck tenderness due to swelling of lymph nodes
  • Tonsils become red and swollen
  • Tonsils have white or yellow spots over them

In very small children, you might even detect excessive irritability, poor appetite and excessive drooling.

When to see a doctor?

You should definitely without a doubt rush to see a medical expert when you undergo the following symptoms-

  • When body temperature rises over 103F
  • If you have muscle weakness
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Sore throat that lasts for over two days

There can be certain rare cases wherein tonsillitis can lead to the throat be swollen so much that it causes breathing problems. If that is the case with you don’t sit back at home and dash to a doctor.

10 Home remedies for swollen tonsils

Tonsil trouble? Simply look out for these best home remedies for swollen tonsils for the people who are suffering from the painful and stubborn condition.

  1. Do salt water gargles to cure tonsil permanently

Worried because of swollen lump in your throat? Don’t you worry dear I have a simple home hack for you! Stir half a teaspoon salt in a glass filled with warm water until salt is fully dissolved in it. Gargle it for next several minutes and let the water sit back for few seconds before you spit it out. Do this multiple times a day to cure tonsils fast. This remedy will ultimately soothe your throat and help you to get rid of the phlegm, which contains microbes that is mainly responsible for tonsils. Also salt treats infection as it has antiseptic properties.

  1. Honey and turmeric drink to cure tonsils fast

To quickly relieve the pain of swollen tonsils, make a drink combined with 2 tablespoon raw honey and 1 teaspoon turmeric and warm water altogether, and have this mixture 3 times a day. With a trillion benefits turmeric in this case also stands for its reputation with its strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties whereas raw honey will soothe your throat and sack away all the irritation by its anti-bacterial and antimicrobial qualities. The power packed drink will arrest the microorganism’s growth to dematerialize the tonsil infection.

  1. Apple cider vinegar for swollen tonsils

To coat a soothing layer in the throat and clear out all the puffiness all you need to do is to dilute 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a warm glass and add hint of honey as per your taste. The apple cider vinegar drink is comprised with a wide range of benefits due to its acidic content such as anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiviral properties which sums up together and kills the bacteria. It may also loosen phlegm and break down the enflamed pain permanently.

  1. Garlic and honey blend to cure tonsils in 4 hours

Accompany yourself with a juice filled with finely crush 4 cloves and top it with 1 teaspoon honey to enhance the flavour dissolved in water to ingest it easily. You can also chew a row clove. Gulp the juice 3 times a day or swallow row clove twice a day to cure tonsils permanently. Whichever way you choose to consume garlic will shoo away all the soreness from your throat and keep bacterial growth and infection at bay! Garlic is compound with antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties which flights against the germs effectively.

  1. A cup of plain yogurt to cure tonsils fast

If nothing works your side all you need to jump over to is a cup of plain yogurt to give away a cooling effect in your throat! The natural probiotics have the soothing and anti- inflammatory abilities which will not only treat tonsils but also boost up your immunity to combat bacterial growth and infection. Sip yogurt once a day to keep swollen tonsils away. It will also do its wonders to cure cold, cough or to prevent any sort of infections.

  1. Onion to cure tonsils permanently

To give a counterattack to swollen tonsils all you have to do is to staple onions in your daily regime or make a juice of it and drink daily, for that you need to blend an onion with half cup of water along with hint of honey, mix it well and devour the mixture in small amounts throughout a day. The onions are packed with anti-bacterial and anti- inflammatory properties that work phenomenally against tonsillitis and regular intake will make them disappear in maximum 3 days permanently.

  1. Milk for swollen tonsils

A milk a day keeps tonsils away! Drinking milk will keep your throat lubricated and moist to ease you in swallowing. You simply mingle milk with 1 teaspoon turmeric and dash pepper and consume it during night to get the effective outcomes overnight. It will also give you a soothing effect in your throat and save your body from getting dehydrated. The overall combination of turmeric, pepper and milk will give an unstoppable impact as the trio is enriched with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, analgesic capabilities. This will eliminate tonsillitis in no time.

  1. Cinnamon tea to cure tonsils fast

Another exceptionally visible home remedy that is one of the healthiest and curing spices in the world. Its is loaded with bucket full of anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which blocks the growth of bacteria and wards off the fungal infection in the throat. Add cinnamon in your morning tea and see how it changes you from tip to toe. Not only this regular consumption will not only diminish the swollenness or pain from the throat but also treat other mouth snags like tooth decay or bad breath.

  1. Fenugreek (methi) to cure tonsils permanently

This leading remedy that works remarkably in not only curing tonsillitis but also has in store a million other advantages to you. The presence of antibacterial and anti- inflammatory skills in fenugreek seeds instantly relief you from lumped throat and provide you with an escape from all your pain and irritation in one go. So to make a magical homemade syrup you have to merge two tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in 2 or 3 cups water, simmer it for 15 minutes, strain and let it cool. Use the solution to gargle during the day. It will also help you to break down the phlegm. This amounts for an awesome remedy that is going to take away all your pain.

  1. Ginger for swollen tonsils

Ginger is known to provide one helluva benefits. it has a reputation that it stands rightly for in the medical circuit. Ginger cures your tonsils in a snap as it has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and strengthens your immune system to fight strongly against all external forces like pathogens. There are many forms in which you can consume it like you can simply pop a raw ginger or take a ginger candy or the simplest way is to drink a cup full of ginger tea.

Some other tips to cure tonsils fast:

  • Humidifiers

Other than the above you can also use humidifiers as it will loosen your swollen tissue in your throat and nose because the mostly dry mouth is the result of tonsillitis. So, make sure you use cool-mist humidifiers as it will increase the moisture in the room which will help you to soothe your throat.

  • Stay hydrated

Dehydration can lead you to worsen your condition, so make sure you drink plenty of water to produce more saliva and mucus to keep your throat lubricated and moist. Drink cold fluids or warm fluids. Avoid hot liquids, caffeine, and alcohol.

  • Don’t smoke

Smoking can make your current situation worse so make sure you quit smoking. Also it is super harmful for your health. This avoidance will only better your overall health.

  • Have ice cream –Who said you can’t have ice cream during your illness? You can eat ice cream during swollen tonsils. Ice cream particularly is very helpful for young children who can’t do home remedies safely. Elders can also stick to ice cream as it prevents your throat from swelling and inflammation.

Preventive measures

Why to get into the trouble of shooing away tonsillitis when you can simply steer clear from it by ensuring that these simple measures are a part of your everyday routine. So to decrease the contingency of tonsillitis just follow these steps:

  • Keep a distance from those people who are prone to active infections
  • Wash your hands every now and then especially after coughing or sneezing or after shaking hands with someone who is under the attack of tonsillitis
  • If you have tonsillitis, stay away from others till it’s no longer infectious
  • Stop smoking
  • Make good oral hygiene

The Bottom Line

Before we part ways I want to make sure that you imbibe all the preventive measures whenever you are in a situation like this. But for now just try the home remedies and if the problem still subsists go seek medical help. Take note of all the necessary points and store them in the chambers of your brain. I hope this article brings you in great health and spirit.


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Treatment of tonsillitis

Tonsillitis usually improves on its own within a week without any antibiotics. You can use self-help measures and over-the-counter medicines to ease your symptoms. But if your symptoms are not improving after a week, or are getting worse, you should speak to your GP.

Self-help for tonsillitis

If your tonsillitis is mild, there are several things you can do to ease your symptoms.

  • Rest and take it easy for a few days.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a raised temperature, to prevention dehydration.
  • Don’t drink hot drinks as these can make your sore throat worse. It may help to drink ice drinks instead.
  • Gargle with a simple mouthwash such as warm salt water − this may help to ease the pain in your throat.
  • You may find that sucking throat lozenges can ease your sore throat.
  • Having frozen desserts such as ice lollies may make your throat feel better.

If your throat is very sore or you have a raised temperature, you may find over-the-counter medicines can help. These include paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine. If you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice

If you’re unsure whether to see a GP about your symptoms, see our FAQ on Should I see my GP about a sore throat?

Medicines for tonsillitis

If you see your GP for tonsillitis, they probably won’t offer you antibiotics. This is because antibiotics don’t work against viral infections, which cause most cases of tonsillitis. Antibiotics are unlikely to make much difference to your symptoms. Most people with tonsillitis find their symptoms improve after around a week, whether or not they take antibiotics.

However, your GP may recommend antibiotics if they think you’ll benefit from taking them. They may prescribe antibiotics if you:

  • have very bad symptoms, which could suggest a more severe bacterial infection
  • could be prone to serious complications

See Complications of tonsillitis for more information.

Your GP may offer you a delayed prescription for an antibiotic. This means they’ll give you a prescription, but you don’t collect the medicine from the pharmacy straightaway. You only collect, and take, the antibiotic if your symptoms are not improving after three to five days or if they’re getting worse.

If you do need an antibiotic, your GP will probably offer you a five- to 10-day course. You’ll usually be prescribed penicillin, so it’s important to tell your GP if you’re allergic to this medicine. If you are, you can take other antibiotics instead.

If your GP prescribes antibiotics, it’s important to use them properly. You should complete the full course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. This helps to get rid of all the harmful bacteria and reduces the risk of resistance (when antibiotics no longer work against the bacteria).

Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine. If you have any questions about your medicine, speak to a pharmacist.

Surgery for tonsillitis

Your GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon if they feel you may benefit from having your tonsils removed. The operation to remove your tonsils is called a tonsillectomy. This won’t treat tonsillitis while you have an infection, but it will prevent you from getting tonsillitis in the future.

Your doctor will usually suggest a tonsillectomy only if you have had tonsillitis:

  • regularly and/or it affects your breathing
  • more than seven times in the last year
  • five times or more in each of the past two years
  • three or more times in each of the past three years

Your doctor may also recommend a tonsillectomy if you’ve had a peritonsillar abscess (quinsy). See our section on Complications of Tonsillitis.

For children, your GP may recommend that you wait to see if the tonsillitis gets better on its own before considering surgery. As young children get older, they become less likely to have tonsillitis. A tonsillectomy is a very common operation and is usually very successful. But, like all operations, it can cause complications. Having a tonsillectomy also doesn’t mean you won’t get a sore throat in the future.

Although your tonsils are part of your immune system, having them removed doesn’t cause any problems for your immune response. This is because the tonsils are just the visible part of a wider ring of tissue at the back of your throat. When they are removed, enough of this tissue is left behind to keep fighting infections.

For more information on tonsillectomy, see Adenoid and tonsil removal.

Enlarged Tonsils and Adenoids

What are enlarged tonsils and adenoids?

Tonsils are small, round pieces of tissue located in the back of the mouth on both sides of the throat. The adenoid is a clump of tissue located behind the nasal cavity above the roof of the mouth. Tonsils and adenoids fight infection and can become enlarged when they get infected.

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are also referred to as tonsillitis, adenoiditis, or tonsil and adenoid hypertrophy. A child with enlarged tonsils and adenoids may have a sore throat, trouble swallowing, sleep apnea or an inner ear infection.

What causes enlarged tonsils and adenoids?

Tonsils and adenoids can become enlarged for many different reasons, including exposure to viruses, bacteria, fungal, parasitic infections and cigarette smoke.

Common viruses include:

  • adenovirus
  • influenza virus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • herpes simplex virus

Common bacteria include:

  • group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (GABHS)
  • Neisseria gonorrhea
  • Haemophilus influenzae Type B
  • mycoplasma

The risk for tonsil and adenoid infections increase when children are in close contact with other children who have viral or bacterial infections.

What are the symptoms of enlarged tonsils and adenoids?

Symptoms of enlarged tonsils and adenoids can vary depending on the cause and severity of infection. They can occur suddenly or develop gradually.

Symptoms of tonsillitis

  • sore throat
  • painful swallowing
  • lost appetite
  • bright red tonsils
  • white or yellow film on the tonsils
  • fever
  • bad breath

Symptoms of enlarged adenoids

  • breathing through the mouth instead of the nose
  • constantly running nose
  • nasal speech
  • recurring ear infections
  • snoring
  • sleep apnea, when the child repeatedly stops breathing for a few seconds while asleep

How we care for enlarged tonsils and adenoids

The Boston Children’s Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Enhancement is the oldest, largest and one of the most recognized centers for pediatric otolaryngology in the U.S. Our team specializes in caring for infectious and inflammatory conditions of the ear, nose and throat, including enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Because our focus is children, we have the experience and expertise to offer the very best treatment.

Tonsillitis: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Treatment and Home Care

In this article:

The tonsils are a pair of oval-shaped structures located at the side of the throat near the back of the tongue, one on either side.

These soft tissue organs are part of your body’s natural defense system and function to protect your throat from infection-carrying invaders.

The tonsils are among the body’s foremost defensive mechanisms against any germ, bacteria, or virus that finds its way into your throat through the respiratory route or the mouth.

They release antibodies that can help combat these pathogenic threats and deny them further access into the body.

However, there are cases when the tonsils themselves become infected by incoming viruses and bacteria.

Tonsils usually swell up during the infection, and inflammation of this kind is referred to as tonsillitis.

The enlargement of these structures can make swallowing difficult and is usually accompanied by a sore throat and nasal congestion.

The inflammation can spread to the adenoids and as far back as the lingual tonsils, which lie at the base of the tongue.

Tonsillitis is a common occurrence in children, but adults are not immune to it either.

What Causes Tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis, or enlargement of the tonsils, can be triggered by a number of airborne infections.

A person who has come down with a viral or bacterial infection may release contaminated droplets in the air while speaking, coughing, sneezing, or even breathing.

Depending upon the causative agent, tonsillitis can either be bacterial or viral.

While most tonsil infections are caused by viruses, most cases of bacterial tonsillitis can be traced back to specific strains of streptococcus bacteria.

However, the presence of these bacteria in your system alone does not guarantee the development of tonsillitis later.

Another more unusual bacterial infection that can lead to the inflammation of your tonsils is scarlet fever.

Tonsillitis can also be triggered by common viral infections such as the common cold or flu as well as other lesser known viral infections such as mononucleosis (also called “mono” or glandular fever). (2)

Is It Contagious?

Being in close proximity to the infected individual increases your risk of contracting the infection yourself. The infection-carrying droplets can be inhaled or land on your skin.

You can pick up the infection through indirect contact as well. Once the droplets are released into the environment, they can end up on any object or surface in the vicinity.

Coming into contact with a contaminated surface and then touching your face with contaminated hands allow easy entry of the pathogens into your mouth or nose.

Once you are infected, you become a threat to others. Thus, tonsillitis is essentially a contagious condition that needs prompt treatment to curb the spread of the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Tonsillitis can present different symptoms in different individuals, but the following are some of the most commonly reported ones:

  • The tonsils at the back of your throat may appear visibly enlarged or swollen.
  • The normally pink tonsil tissue may turn unusually red.
  • Yellow, gray, or white pus-filled patches may appear on the infected tonsils.
  • You throat may be covered by painful blisters or sores.
  • The infected tonsils tend to be extremely tender.
  • Your throat may become increasingly sore and red.
  • You may experience pain and difficulty while swallowing due to the swollen tonsils.
  • You may even develop nasal congestion or a runny nose due to the virus that causes tonsillitis.
  • You may experience fever and chills.
  • You may lose your appetite
  • You may tire easily.
  • The inflammation can spread to your voice box (larynx) and give rise to laryngitis.
  • You may suffer from nausea and vomiting.
  • Tonsillitis, especially when caused by a virus, can also be associated with abdominal or stomach pains.
  • The nasal congestion associated with the infection may force you to breathe through the mouth, worsening the condition.
  • Tonsillitis may be accompanied by a headache.
  • You may have coughing and sneezing spells.
  • You may have bad breath especially in the case of bacterial infections.
  • You may salivate more than usual.
  • Tonsillitis and nasal congestion force you to breathe through your mouth, making you prone to snoring.

Viral tonsillitis is much more common and generally milder than bacterial tonsillitis.

Types of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis can manifest differently in different people, but most cases fall into three broad categories:

1. Acute tonsillitis

It is perhaps the most common form of tonsillitis. It is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms that may persist for a few days to 2 weeks.

In acute cases, the inflammation tends to be more widespread and may involve your throat (pharynx) as well.

When the swollen tonsils are accompanied by a swollen pharynx (throat), this is referred to as tonsillopharyngitis.

Moreover, the patient may:

  • Run a high temperature
  • Have a sore throat
  • Have tender lymph nodes in the neck
  • Find it difficult or painful to swallow
  • Give off a foul breath

Acute tonsillitis affects children and young adults the most and is usually triggered by viral infections and, less commonly, by group A streptococci. (3)

2. Recurrent tonsillitis

It is when the condition recurs after being cured. Several episodes of acute tonsillitis over the span of a year qualify as recurrent tonsillitis. (4)

3. Chronic tonsillitis

It is referred to as a long-term form of tonsillitis that usually lasts for more than 2 weeks.

People with chronic tonsillitis either have unabated symptoms for an extended period or experience frequent relapses after recovery.

This prolonged type of tonsillitis typically stems from a stubborn infection that can lead to the formation of tonsil stones (tonsilloliths). In such chronic cases, the swollen tonsils are often surgically removed. (7)

How to Check Yourself for Tonsillitis ?

If you suspect that you have swollen tonsils, visually examining your throat may help you gain greater clarity.

  • Push down your tongue with the inverted curve of a spoon to expose the back of the throat.
  • Light a torch into your mouth to get a clear view of the tonsils.
  • If the tonsils appear bright red, swollen or covered with white or yellow patches, you probably have tonsillitis.

You can even ask someone else to conduct this home examination for you. But to get a conclusive diagnosis, it’s better to visit a doctor.

Diagnosing Tonsillitis

To diagnose tonsillitis, your doctor will first take a detailed history of your symptoms and do a physical checkup.

Your ears, nose, and throat will be thoroughly examined for any signs of inflammation or infection.

Your doctor may collect a swab sample from the back of your throat and send it for further testing.

In most cases, a rapid strep test and a throat culture are performed to identify if there is a bacterial culprit behind the infection.

A rapid strep test provides instant results. However, it may be less accurate, so you cannot rule out the possibility of getting a false-negative result.

A throat culture, on the other hand, usually takes 2-3 days to process but provides more reliable results.

The doctor will consider both these tests to arrive at a definite diagnosis.

Who is at Risk?

Although tonsillitis is extremely common among children, it rarely affects those younger than two years old.

Children aged between 5 years and 15 years are more prone to bacterial tonsillitis, which is often traced back to the streptococcus species of bacteria.

Infants and toddlers under the age of 5 years frequently develop swollen tonsils in the wake of a viral infection.

Children rarely develop a peritonsillar abscess, which is more common among young adults. (5)

Standard Medical Treatment

It is not uncommon for children to develop enlarged tonsils and adenoids without any underlying infection. In such a case, the inflammation usually resolves without any medical or surgical intervention.

If a virus is responsible for the inflammation of your tonsils, the condition will subside on its own within 7-10 days.

“Treatment of tonsillitis is geared towards the cause. If it is a viral infection then supportive measures like rest, hydration and pain control are appropriate,” says Dr. Jordan Glicksman, MD, who is an Otolaryngologist with a fellowship training in Rhinology and Skull Base Surgery, and a part-time lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

“The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery have guidelines specific to the treatment of recurrent tonsillitis. Generally, we try to avoid removal of the tonsils unless the patient has had frequent infections, and only when specifically caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae,” Dr. Glicksman adds.

1. O-T-C Medications

While there are no medications that can help combat the viral infection, you can consider over-the-counter painkillers to manage the symptoms associated with this condition.

However, the need for medical therapy rarely arises in the case of viral tonsillitis as the symptomatic discomfort is usually minimal.

2. Antibiotics

If you have severe symptoms and/or a positive throat culture, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to promote fast recovery from bacterial tonsillitis.

In children, ensure that the right dosage is administered at the right time.

“Antibiotics are to be avoided in case of viral tonsillitis. When the underlying cause is bacterial, especially if the bacteria is Streptococcus pneumoniae (i.e. strep throat), treatment with antibiotics is recommended,” says Dr. Glicksman.

Dr. Glicksman further adds that antibiotics reduce the severity and duration of infection, and in the case of strep throat, antibiotics are critical for preventing complications like rheumatic fever.

When treating your child with over-the-counter pain medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, you should follow your doctor’s guidelines regarding the dosage to avoid any side effects.

Under no circumstance should you give aspirin to a child under the age of 16 years during an acute infection. (8)

3. Surgery

Surgery may be recommended if the tonsillitis keeps returning or if the infection does not respond to other forms of treatment and persists for a significant period of time.

Tonsillectomy (the surgical excision of tonsils) is a common but invasive procedure that usually requires general anesthesia.

It is imperative to discuss all the pros and cons of the surgery with your otolaryngologist before resorting to this option.

Moreover, prompt surgical treatment may be needed if the patient develops a peritonsillar abscess that does not respond to medical management before it becomes large enough to obstruct your airway.

People who have had a tonsillectomy usually report experiencing significant pain for 4-5 days at the site of the surgery.

The intensity of the pain gradually increases during the first few days after the surgery before peaking and then slowly resolves in 1-2 weeks.

You can use nonprescription painkillers to manage the pain; as some of these medications may increase the risk of bleeding from the surgical site, please discuss the appropriate use of these medications with your otolaryngologist.

Children are vulnerable after undergoing this surgery, and it is best to keep them home from school for at least 2 weeks after the procedure.

It is common to experience difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) after you have had your tonsils removed.

You will be advised to drink lots of liquids and eat soft foods for the first few days. You can resume solid foods as the pain improves.

You should avoid hard, crunchy, salty, spicy, and citrus foods for the first few days after surgery as these foods will likely increase the pain.

“Every patient is unique, so if you are having frequent tonsil infections you should seek medical care specific to your needs,” recommends Dr. Glicksman.

Home Remedies and Self-Care

1. Gargle with saltwater

Gargling with warm salt water has been a go-to remedy for throat pain for hundreds of years, including throat pain caused by tonsillitis.

Salt water works as a mild antiseptic solution that may help soothe the irritated and swollen walls of your throat while combating the virus or bacteria at the source of the infection.

The effectiveness of this therapy is yet to be established clinically, but it enjoys overwhelming anecdotal success.

– To prepare this salt water solution, mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 250 ml of warm water. Check the temperature of the water before gargling to make sure it is not too hot.

Rinsing your sore, infected throat with salt water frequently throughout the day may provide quick relief without any adverse side effects. Thus, there is no harm in trying this safe and simple remedy. (1)

2. Get plenty of rest

A well-rested body is better equipped to fight an infection. It is essential that you get enough sleep regularly while you are in the throes of tonsillitis.

Your body repairs and re-energizes itself during sleep. Denying yourself proper rest and sleep will only delay your recovery process.

3. Increase your fluid intake

Tonsillitis can irritate the lining of your throat and make it feel increasingly scratchy, parched, and sore.

Moreover, the swollen tonsils can make it extra hard for you to gulp down fluids, which can render you dehydrated over time.

Keeping your body well hydrated is fundamental to the recovery process. In fact, you must consume more fluids than usual to help your body fight the infection better.

Besides, washing fluids down your throat may help alleviate the dryness, pain, and irritation associated with swollen tonsils.

It is best to stick to moderately warm liquids instead of hot or cold ones. Excessive consumption of hot or cold beverages can further irritate your throat and should be avoided.

Drink sips of cool or warm liquids frequently throughout the day for best results.

4. Consume soft foods

Enlarged tonsils constrict the passage of food and make swallowing considerably difficult and painful.

Thus, it may be best for you to eat soft foods, which go down easily through your throat.

Solid or hard foods can further irritate the sore throat.

5. Eat cold foods

Patients with tonsillitis are often advised to eat frozen foods such as ice cream, popsicles, and ice pops to soothe their irritated throat.

However, having cold desserts that contain a lot of sugar can be counterproductive.

To avoid any undue complications, discuss the appropriate options with your doctor.

6. Stay away from cigarette smoke

You must avoid both active and passive smoking, as inhaling tobacco fumes can worsen the underlying infection and delay recovery.

7. Consider over-the-counter treatments

You can suck on benzocaine-containing lozenges or use oral sprays to relieve the discomfort in your throat.

Lozenges are not recommended for children as they may try to swallow the hard tablet and end up choking on it.

8. Consuming honey to improve postoperative pain

A 2013 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that was conducted on 104 subjects who underwent tonsillectomy found honey to be useful in reducing the patient’s postoperative pain and dependence on pain medicine when taken along with routine analgesics. (6)

Moreover, honey is unlikely to cause any adverse side effects, making it safe for regular administration.

Conditions Mistaken for Tonsillitis

1. Tonsillitis and Strep Throat

People often confuse strep throat with tonsillitis or the other way around, but the two conditions are different.

While strep throat is a bacterial infection and may involve all the structures in the throat including the tonsils, tonsillitis is more specific and refers to the inflammation of the tonsils alone.

In fact, tonsillitis can be an after-effect of a strep throat infection.

The bacteria responsible for strep throat is streptococcus, which is also responsible for most cases of bacterial tonsillitis.

However, there are other strains of bacteria that can cause a throat infection and, consequently, tonsillitis.

To conclude, while strep throat is an infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria, tonsillitis is the enlargement of the tonsils due to an underlying viral or bacterial infection.

In rare cases, tonsillitis may be caused by a fungal or parasitic infection.

2. Tonsillitis and Tonsil Stones

Your tonsils can sometimes become inflamed due to the accumulation of debris, which gradually hardens to form small “stones” called tonsil stones or tonsilloliths.

This condition is usually accompanied by a foul breath and points towards a more serious underlying health problem.

In some cases, the buildup of this hardened material within the tonsils is triggered by an ongoing case of tonsillitis.

How to Prevent Tonsillitis?

As most types of infectious tonsillitis are caused by viruses and bacteria in the environment and from other sick people, it is essential to observe proper personal hygiene to reduce your risk of coming into contact with these germs.

Follow these guidelines to keep yourself from getting infected:

  • Because tonsillitis is usually a “community-acquired” infection, it spreads easily from one person to the next.Thus, you should maintain a healthy distance from anyone who is currently struggling with this condition or even a sore throat.
  • You should not share utensils and personal items with anyone who has active tonsillitis or is suffering from a sore throat.
  • Proper hand hygiene is crucial to avoid all kinds of infections, including those responsible for tonsillitis.You come into contact with all sorts of contaminated objects and surfaces; thus, it is essential for you to wash your hands several times a day, especially before eating or touching your face.

    Carry a hand sanitizer with you when venturing out to keep your hands clean at all times.

  • Whenever you feel a cough or a sneeze coming, you must cover your mouth with your hands. Make sure to wash your hands thereafter. You can also keep a clean cloth handy for this purpose, especially when fighting a cold or flu.
  • Try to keep your nose as clean as possible – use a nasal saline mist to protect yourself from inhaled germs.
  • Practice good oral hygiene – in addition to regular toothbrushing and flossing, consider using over-the-counter antiseptic oral rinses during the cold and flu season, especially if you recently came in contact with an infected individual.
  • Treat your allergies as needed because allergic inflammation makes you more susceptible to infection.
  • Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated. Bacterial vaccinations such as Prevnar, Pneumovax, and HiB offer protection from other airway infections and may reduce the risk of tonsillitis.

Complications of Tonsillitis

Given that viral tonsillitis is a relatively subdued form of this condition, it rarely proves to be a serious cause of concern.

Bacterial tonsillitis, on the other hand, can sometimes take a serious turn especially if the infection spreads to other parts of the body.

This can lead to several complications, including the following:

1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Tonsillitis can affect the walls of the throat and render them increasingly lax during sleep.

As the walls of your throat close in involuntarily, you will find it difficult to breathe in the middle of your sleep.

This condition is known as obstructive sleep apnea and is characterized by frequent sleep disruptions on account of labored breathing.

2. Secondary infections

The underlying bacterial infection responsible for your swollen tonsils can trigger a number of secondary infections.

This happens when the bacteria advances to infect your nose, sinuses, ears, lungs, or bloodstream.

3. Glue ear (otitis media)

Children with tonsillitis may develop a condition called glue ear in which the air-filled space of the middle ear gets filled with viscous mucus.

Adenoids and tonsils belong to the same group of lymph tissue. Glue ear occurs when the swollen tonsils and adenoids block the opening of the Eustachian tube, which extends from the back of the nose to the middle ear.

This obstruction leaves no room for the mucous normally made by the middle ear to drain into the throat. This trapped mucus can lead to pressure and hearing loss.

4. Quinsy

In some cases of tonsillitis, the underlying infection may spread from the tonsils to the adjoining tissues in the throat.

The infected tissues then develop into a painful abscess, which is known as a peritonsillar abscess or quinsy.

A peritonsillar abscess is very painful, may lead to difficulty swallowing, and may even interfere with normal breathing.

This complication affects both the sexes equally but is more prevalent among those with chronic tonsillitis and those who have taken several courses of oral antibiotics for acute tonsillitis.

If a prolonged bacterial infection of the tonsils is not treated properly or timely, tonsillitis can pave the way for the following uncommon complications:

  • Scarlet fever – Characterized by the appearance of a pink-red skin rash
  • Rheumatic fever – Triggers inflammation in your entire body, which manifests in the form of painful joints, rashes, and body spasms
  • Glomerulonephritis – Refers to an infection or inflammation of the filters in the kidneys and usually causes vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Guttate psoriasis – An inflammatory condition of the skin

Myth and Facts

Myth 1

It is a general misconception that people who had their tonsils removed can never contract a strep throat infection.

Even though this bacterial infection primarily targets the tonsils, it can spread to other tissues in the throat as well.

So, it is entirely possible for a strep throat to occur even after tonsillectomy, but the chances of that happening are low.

Myth 2

The claim that tonsillectomy is an outdated procedure that is considered unsafe or unsuitable for children and teens is false.

Tonsil removal continues to be one of the most common and safest surgical procedures that are routinely recommended for children and teens with enlarged tonsils.

When to See a Doctor

You must seek prompt medical assistance if:

  • You run a fever of 101 °F (38.3 °C) or higher.
  • Swallowing becomes significantly painful or difficult.
  • You experience an overproduction of saliva, which may lead to drooling, especially in the case of young children.
  • The lymph glands in your neck become increasingly swollen or tender.
  • You notice the formation of pus at the back of the throat.
  • Your breathing becomes labored.

You may ask your doctor:

  1. Is tonsillitis contagious?
  2. How do I prevent it from spreading?
  3. Can my child attend school while suffering from tonsillitis?
  4. Should it be treated with medications or surgery?
  5. How much time will be needed to recover completely after surgery?
  6. Does diet have a role to play in tonsillitis?
  7. Can I have cold beverages while undergoing treatment?

Your doctor may ask you:

  1. What are the symptoms you are experiencing?
  2. Does it hurt to swallow food?
  3. Is the infection accompanied by a fever?
  4. Does the pain disrupt your sleep?

Expert Answers (Q&A)

Answered by Dr. Mike Dilkes, MBBS (Otolaryngologists)

Why are children more prone to tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is more common in children than in adults because their immune system is young and their antibody library to infections can only expand by being exposed to pathogens (viruses and bacteria mainly). This happens over time.
So, they get more infections because they have never been exposed before. Adults, of course, have had most of the infections out there.

Do bananas help treat tonsillitis?

There is no evidence that bananas help acute tonsillitis, although they may soothe the surface of the tonsils and make the patient feel marginally better.

What is the best course of treatment for people suffering from recurrent episodes of tonsillitis?

Antibiotics are not useful in the early stage of tonsillitis. Sometimes, tonsillitis develops into an abscess (quinsy). That is when antibiotics are required.
Otherwise, full supportive therapy with high fluid intake, paracetamol to bring the temperature down, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen should suffice, along with eating as normally as possible.

Why are tonsillitis symptoms worse at night?

Tonsillitis pain is worse at night because the affected individual does not take the painkillers nor eat when asleep.
Also, the natural bodily steroid rhythm drops to its lowest point in the middle of the night. This means inflammation increases at this point.

Can tonsillitis trigger earache?

Tonsillitis often causes earache, as the same nerve supplies the tonsils and the ear (the glossopharyngeal nerve). Pain in the ear with tonsillitis is called referred pain and is often the sign that the disease is worsening and possibly forming an abscess.

Should dairy products be consumed when suffering from tonsillitis?

Dairy products will not affect recovery from tonsillitis. Maintaining a normal, healthy diet is very important.

Is it possible to cure tonsillitis forever?

Tonsillitis is a nasty condition and can lead to much time off school or work. Eventually, the patient has to consider surgical treatment to eradicate the disease forever.
Traditional tonsillectomy is known to be very painful and has a high bleeding rate in teenagers and adults.
The intracapsular approach, which uses a carbon dioxide laser or coblation, is recommended. The laser is particularly helpful as it can be used with a local anesthetic spray to remove the tonsils – a lunchtime treatment.

About Dr. Mike Dilkes, MBBS, FRCS: Dr. Dilkes is a consultant ENT (ear, nose, and throat) surgeon in London. He has 23 years of experience as a consultant and specializes in tonsil treatment, blocked noses, and snoring/sleep apnea.

He uses laser technology coupled with computers to minimize patient suffering and treats most of his surgical patients as day cases.

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    What Is Tonsillitis?

    Tonsillitis (tahn-suh-LYE-tus) is an infection of the tonsils. Tonsils are lumps of tissue on both sides of the back of the throat that help the immune system protect the body from infections. Inflamed tonsils get red and swollen and can cause a sore throat.

    What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Tonsillitis?

    Inflamed tonsils look red and swollen, and may be covered with a yellow or whitish coating or spots. A child with tonsillitis may have:

    • a sore throat
    • fever
    • bad breath
    • swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
    • trouble swallowing
    • stomachache
    • headache

    Tonsillitis is usually caused by a

    such as:

    • adenovirus
    • the flu
    • Epstein-Barr virus (mono)

    Bacteria also can cause it, most commonly group A streptococcus (strep throat). Rarely, tonsillitis can be caused by something other than an infection.

    Who Gets Tonsillitis?

    Anyone at any age can get tonsillitis. Strep throat is most common in kids and teens ages 5 to 15.

    How Is Tonsillitis Diagnosed?

    Health care providers will ask about symptoms and do an exam. They’ll check the inside of the mouth, the back of the throat, and the neck.

    A health care provider may use a soft cotton swab to gently collect a sample from the tonsils and back of the throat. This can be:

    • tested quickly with a rapid strep test that gives an answer within minutes
    • sent to a lab for a throat culture, which takes a few days

    If the rapid strep test doesn’t show signs of strep, the health care provider will depend on the culture for a final diagnosis.

    It’s important to call your health care provider if your child has tonsillitis symptoms.

    How Is Tonsillitis Treated?

    Treatment depends on whether the tonsillitis is caused by:

    • a virus, in which case the body will fight the infection on its own
    • bacteria, in which case the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. Help your child take the antibiotic exactly as directed. This helps symptoms clear up quickly and prevents spreading the infection to others.
      It’s important to finish the entire prescription — even if your child feels better in a few days — or the infection could come back. This also helps prevent a more serious health problem that streptococcus can cause, called rheumatic fever, which can damage the heart.

    Rarely, a health care provider might recommend a tonsillectomy (surgery to remove the tonsils) if a child’s tonsils get infected a lot or are so big they make it hard to breathe at night. Tonsillectomy used to be very commonly done. Now, experts use guidelines to decide if tonsil removal is the best treatment. In general, tonsillectomy may be considered if a child has seven sore throat episodes in 1 year, five episodes 2 years in a row, or three episodes 3 years in a row.

    How Can I Help My Child Feel Better?

    Make sure that your child drinks lots of fluids and gets plenty of rest. If swallowing hurts, serve liquids and soft foods. Some kids prefer warm drinks, like soup or sweetened tea. Other kids like the feel of cold or frozen foods on their throat, such as milkshakes, smoothies, ice pops, or ice cream. Older kids can suck on hard candies or throat lozenges.

    You can give a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, for throat pain. Don’t give aspirin or other products that contain aspirin, though, because these can put kids at risk for Reye syndrome.

    Is Tonsillitis Contagious?

    Tonsillitis is contagious. Sneezing and coughing can pass the germ causing the illness from one person to the next.

    Can Tonsillitis Be Prevented?

    Try to keep kids away from anyone who already has tonsillitis or a sore throat, and make sure everyone in your family washes their hands well and often.

    If someone in the family has tonsillitis, keep their drinking glasses and eating utensils separate, and wash them in hot, soapy water. They should not share food, drinks, napkins, or towels with other family members. Give them a new toothbrush after they’re treated and no longer contagious.

    What Else Should I Know?

    If the sore throat gets worse, especially on one side, call your doctor. This could be a sign of a peritonsillar abscess. This happens when bacteria spread from the tonsil to the space around it and fill it with pus. Other signss of an abscess include fever, headache, earache, drooling, or a muffled voice. Treating an abscess might be done in a hospital, possibly with surgery to drain the infection. Tonsillectomy may be considered for kids who get multiple peritonsillar abscesses.

    Reviewed by: Steven M. Andreoli, MD Date reviewed: October 2019

    Tonsil stones are calcified stone formations found on the tonsils (pair of lymph nodes) at the rear end of the throat, right on top of the mouth. The formations are not noticeable until you suffer from consistent bad breath and poor dental hygiene.

    Eventually, food particles and bacteria accumulate in the region, specifically when the tonsils stop producing antibodies to prevent bacteria from entering the inner recesses of the oral cavity.

    Symptoms include pain during swallowing, sore throats and inflamed tonsils. As the first-line treatment, home remedies are known to be effective. Some of them are as listed below.


    Turn the toothbrush around and use the backside to gently move the stone out of the backend of the mouth. Be careful not to hurt yourself and cause bleeding. It could also help to brush the tongue and teeth several times to prevent more bacteria from adding on to the tonsils and worsening the stones’ condition.

    Gargling With Saltwater

    Add half a teaspoon of salt to warm water then gargle with the liquid for 10-15 seconds, which may unfasten the tonsil stones to an extent. Try this a few times and don’t overdo it.

    Careful Coughing

    Coughing is the most hassle-free way of trying to dislodge tonsil stones. However, it is important to cough in moderation since intense coughing could harm the throat.

    Low-Pressure Irrigator

    Water irrigators are available online to purchase and the low pressure ones such as the water flosser could be useful to dislodge tonsil stones effectively. It works best in front of a well-lit mirror when directly targeting the tonsil stones with a water flosser. Children should stay away from this method since it can lead to choking if used carelessly.

    Cottons Swabs

    Insert a dampened cotton swab towards the fag end of the mouth and gently jab the tonsil stones. Be sure that it is done in such a way that it does not cause injury. Try only a few smooth and gentle pokes, otherwise you risk the rupturing of the blood vessels around the tonsils.

    Apple Cider Vinegar

    Gargle with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar three times a day and it will help break down some of the acidic properties that make up the stones.


    The herb has antibacterial properties that break down the bacteria in the tonsil stones, eventually loosening the stones to fall off.

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