Tonsil plays a significant role in our immune system, and they stand as the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses we swallow or inhale. The collection of lymphoid tissue at the back of the mouth forms a part of Waldeyer’s tonsillar ring and includes various types of other tonsils, such as the lingual tonsil, the tubal tonsils, the nasopharyngeal tonsil (also called adenoid), and the palatine tonsil.
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When the tonsils contain an immune response to potential foreign invaders, such as a different type of infection or bacteria, they can become enlarged or engorged. The type of infection that affects the tonsils is known as tonsillitis, and you can deal with this medical condition with home remedies for tonsil infections available in this post.
You will learn the following from this post:
- Meaning of tonsil infections
- Symptoms of tonsil infections
- Causes and risk factors of tonsil infections
- Diagnosing tonsil infections
- Home remedies for tonsil infections
What is Tonsil Infection?
A medical name for tonsil infection is tonsillitis, and it is an infection of the tonsil, which is the two masses of tissue at the back of your throat. The tonsils function as filters, trapping germs that could otherwise find their way into your airways and result in infection. But sometimes, the tonsils get overwhelmed by viruses or bacteria, which can cause them to become inflamed or swollen.
Tonsil infection is a common condition, especially among children. It can occur once in a way or return in a short period. Tonsillitis is of three types:
- Acute tonsillitis: The symptoms of this condition usually last 3 or 4 days but can also go on for about two weeks.
- Recurrent tonsillitis: This is a situation where you experience tonsil infections several times in a year.
- Chronic tonsillitis: This is a situation where your tonsil infection is a long-term condition.
There are available home remedies for tonsillitis that you can use to relieve yourself of this painful experience.
Symptoms of Tonsil Infections
Symptoms you may experience when you have tonsil infections can include the following:
- Stiff neck
- Stomachache, especially in younger children
- Bad breath
- A scratchy, throaty, or muffled voice
- Enlarged, tender glands appear in the neck
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Sore throat
- White or yellow patches, covering, or coating on the tonsils
- Red, swollen tonsils the natural remedies in this post are also home remedies for swollen tonsils)
- Ulcer or painful blisters in your throat
- Ear pain
For an infant that may not be able to verbalize the symptoms they are experiencing, you may notice the following signs in them:
- Unusual fussiness
- Refusal to eat
- Drooling as a result of difficult or painful swallowing
- Upset stomach
Suppose these symptoms of tonsil infections sound similar to those of the common cold. In that case, it’s because the common cold often causes tonsil infections – but the symptoms of tonsil infections tend to last longer and become chronic. The virus that begins with a sore throat and sniffles can become a tonsil infection.
Causes and Risk Factors of Tonsil Infections
Before we discuss the homemade remedies for tonsillitis, we shall first understand everything about tonsil infections. The suffix “-itis” in tonsillitis means inflammation – therefore, tonsil infection is the inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsil infection is mainly caused by the same virus that causes the common cold. Still, it can also result from bacteria, such as Streptococcus pyonegenes – a form of bacteria responsible for strep throat.
Because the tonsils are the first roadblock against bacteria and viruses, they are often vulnerable to infection. Although the tonsil itself is not communicable, the bacteria and viruses that result in the infection are contagious.
Tonsillitis is often the result of a viral infection. Increased exposure to other people who may have the virus (particularly infected droplets that they cough or exhale) increases your possibility of contracting a viral infection that becomes tonsillitis.
For instance, a schoolteacher who is exposed to many children who run around and play together is more susceptible to getting sick than a person who works in their own cubicles or offices. Children also tend to be at a higher risk for infections that could result in tonsillitis for the same reason: they tend to spend more time being near to others.
Washing the hand frequently and not sharing food or cups can help reduce the spread of viral infections that could lead to tonsillitis. Masks that protect the mouth and nose can also reduce the spread of the virus.
Teenagers and young kids are also at a higher risk for tonsil infections because they possess more prominent tonsil tissue. However, as we grow older, the tonsil tissue shrinks back a little bit, and, as a result, we tend to get fewer infections.
The significant risk factors for tonsil infections in adults are working or living closely with kids and advanced age.
Other common causes of tonsil infections include the following:
- herpes simplex virus
- parainfluenza viruses
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Influenza virus
In summary, the following factors may put you at greater risk of getting tonsil infections:
- Age: As already mentioned, children are at a greater risk of having tonsil infections than adults. Kids that fall between the ages of 5 and 15 are more likely to get the infection due to bacteria, which is more common in very young children. The old or elderly are also at higher risk of getting tonsil infections.
- Germ exposure: Children that spend more time with other children in public places or gatherings can easily spread infections that become tonsillitis.
Diagnosing Tonsil Infections
Your doctor will carry out a physical examination to find out if you have a tonsil infection. First, they will check into your tonsils to determine if they are swollen, red, or have pus in them. They will also check for a fever. To do this, they may have to look in your nose and ears for any indication of infection; then, they may feel the side of your neck for pain or swelling.
You might have to go through some tests for your doctor to understand the cause of your tonsil infections fully – such tests may include:
- A throat swab. Your doctor will run some tests on your saliva and cells taken from your throat for strep bacteria. First, they will run a cotton swab through the back of your throat. You might feel uncomfortable with this, but it does not hurt. Results are usually out within 10 and 15 minutes. In some cases, your doctor might want a lab test that takes some days. If the tests are negative, then a virus is the cause of your tonsil infection.
- A blood test. It’s often called CBC (complete blood cell count). The CBC looks for high and low numbers of cells in the blood to determine whether a bacteria or virus is the cause of your tonsil infection.
- Rash. Your doctor might check for a rash associated with strep throat infection; the rash is called scarlatina.
Home Remedies for Tonsil Infections
The following home remedies can go a long way in treating your tonsil infections or alleviating their symptoms.
1. Drink Plenty of Warm Liquids
Drinking liquids that are warm, such as teas, broths, and soups, can help in soothing a sore throat. In addition, herbal teas with ingredients like glycerine, pectin, or honey may help relieve the symptoms of tonsil infections or sore throat because these ingredients form a protective film across the mucous membranes that reside in the mouth and throat, which might help soothe irritation.
However, the evidence that herbal tea helps treat the symptoms of tonsil infections is still relatively weak.
2. Eat Cold Foods
Eating soft, cold foods like ice cream or frozen yogurt can numb the throat, temporarily relieving the pain. You can also try the following:
- sipping ice-cold water
- drinking chilled smoothies
- sucking on popsicles
Other options you can try include chewing gums that contain menthol or mint, or candies. These provide a similar numbing and cooling sensation in the throat.
3. Stay Away from Hard Foods
Eating sharp or hard foods can be painful and uncomfortable for those suffering from tonsil infections. Foods that are hard may scratch the throat, causing further inflammation and irritation. The foods you should avoid include the following:
- raw apples
- raw carrots
- dry cereal
If you have tonsillitis, you should eat softer foods you can easily swallow or simply stick to chilled smoothies, broths, or soups until your symptoms subside.
4. Gargle with Salt Water
Gargling with salt water when you are experiencing the symptoms of a tonsil infection may temporarily soothe tickling or pain in the back of the throat. You can make a saltwater mixture by adding a quarter of a teaspoon of table salt to about 8 ounces of warm water. Stir the solution until the salt has totally dissolved. Then you can now go ahead and gargle with the water for a few seconds. Do not swallow; spit it out after some seconds. You can repeat the process as often as you can (as long as you do not swallow the water).
Young children should not gargle because they may run the risk of inhaling the saltwater and choking, which can be pretty life-threatening.
5. Increase the Humidity of Indoor
Dry air can worsen sore throat irritation. People experiencing tonsil infections may gain some relief by using a cool-mist humidifier. These devices help return moisture to the air, helping relieve throat discomfort. You should clean your humidifier every day to avoid the growth of bacteria or harmful molds. If you cannot afford a humidifier, you can try inhaling steam from a hot bath or shower.
6. Avoid Straining the Voice
When there is swelling, inflammation, and irritation in the throat, the voice can become muffled. You might be tempted to end this by trying to raise your voice, but that will further irritate your sore throat. If you experience pain while speaking, you should try to rest the voice as much as you can. You can also book an appointment with your doctor because experiencing pain while speaking might be an indication of a complication.
7. Get Enough Rest
People with tonsil infections should try to get as much rest as they can. Getting enough rest will give the body the ability to battle bacterial or viral infections even without any medications. When you have the infection, you should try as much as possible to avoid going to school or work, because doing all those will not only increase your chance of being ill for a longer time, but it may also put other people exposed to you at risk of developing the condition.
8. Over-the-counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter analgesics can help reduce the symptoms of fever, sore throat, and other painful symptoms of tonsil infections. Examples of such drugs include the following:
Children should not take aspirin in any form because it can trigger Reye’s syndrome in them – an illness that can be life-threatening.
Taking analgesics regularly can sustain pain relief for the rest of the day.
9. Medicated Throat Lozenges
Some throat lozenges have anesthetic medications that can soothe and numb the throat. Many of these medications also contain anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and swelling. One of the benefits of throat lozenges is that they directly relieve pain at the site of inflammation. Some lozenges also have antiseptic agents in them. These agents target bacteria that can cause bacterial tonsillitis.
However, young children should not use lozenges because they pose a choking risk. In addition, some lozenges also contain benzocaine which can adversely affect children.
10. Throat Gargles and Sprays
Throat gargles and sprays are other methods of delivering antiseptic, anti-inflammation, and anesthetic medications directly to the throat. You can find throat spray with one of the following ingredients:
- chlorhexidine gluconate
- cetylpyridinium chloride
- benzyl alcohol
- benzocaine, for adults and older children only
The germs that cause bacterial and viral tonsil infections are contagious. Therefore, the best way to prevent tonsil infection is to practice good hygiene. If you have the condition already, try as much as possible to stay away from others to avoid passing the infection to other people. Most importantly, the home remedies for tonsil infections and natural cures for tonsillitis available in this post will help you deal with its symptoms and keep you relatively healthy.