Tonsillitis and Adenoid Infection

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What natural or home remedies help soothe tonsillitis pain and inflammation?

If a doctor has diagnosed tonsillitis, there are some home remedies that can help soothe the symptoms of a sore throat.

  1. Throat sprays and lozenges: these can coat and moisturize the throat, and many have a topical anesthetic to relieve pain (consult a doctor before giving lozenges to young children; they can be a choking hazard)
  2. Saltwater gargle: this helps clear mucus from the throat
  3. Sipping warm beverages such as tea with honey, or broth can be soothing
  4. Eating cold foods such as ice cream or popsicles can help ease pain

Some alternative remedies may help ease tonsillitis symptoms.

  1. Slippery elm in lozenge form may help with pain relief
  2. Serrapeptase is an enzyme that has anti-inflammatory properties and can help decrease pain and help with swallowing
  3. Papain is an enzyme that can help treat inflammation
  4. Andrographis can help treat fever and sore throat symptoms

Consult your doctor before using any alternative remedies. Many of these home remedies are not recommended for use in children or adolescents, most have not been scientifically evaluated.

When should the tonsils and/or adenoids be removed (tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy)?

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are indicated in persons with repeated or persistent infections, particularly if they interfere with everyday activities. The American Academy of Otolaryngology defines repeated infections in children as seven episodes in one year, or five episodes in each of two years, or three episodes in each of three years.

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are also warranted in situations where there is enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids to such an extent that it causes severe sleep problems (snoring and breath holding), sleep apnea, dental abnormalities, and difficulty swallowing. Adenoid enlargement alone, or in combination with tonsillar enlargement, can cause nasal obstruction, recurrent ear infections, or sinusitis. If these conditions are resistant to medical therapy, surgery is indicated to cure them.

A significant episode of tonsillitis is defined by one or more of the following criteria: (1) a temperature greater than 101 F (38.3 C); (2) enlarged or tender neck lymph nodes; (3) pus material coating the tonsils; or (4) a positive strep test.

In adults, the severity, frequency, and hardship associated with repeated infections are considered more important than the absolute number. Chronic infections characterized by bad breath and/or tonsillar stones causing significant disability are also indicators for tonsillectomy.

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are strongly considered in those patients who are suffering, or may suffer serious complications of infection. These include peritonsillar abscess, history of streptococcal complications (rheumatic heart disease, glomerulonephritis), or neck abscess. Suspicion of cancer (malignancy) or tumor is a definite reason for surgery.

It should be emphasized that all decisions for or against removing the tonsils or adenoids are dependent upon the individual patient's particular situation. Additional factors, such as tolerance of antibiotics, concurrent medical problems, school achievement/progress, and family preferences are also important factors in the decision process.

REFERENCES:

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. "Tonsils and Adenoids."
<http://www.entnet.org/content/tonsils-and-adenoids>

American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Tonsillitis. January 2011.
<http://www.entnet.org/content/tonsillitis>

Drutz, J, MD. "Sore throat in children and adolescents: Symptomatic treatment." UpToDate. Updated: Dec 07, 2015.
<http://www.uptodate.com/contents/sore-throat-in-children-and-adolescents-symptomatic-treatment>

Paradise, J.L., MD. et al. "Tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy in children: Indications and contraindications." Updated: Aug 18, 2016.
<http://www.uptodate.com/contents/tonsillectomy-and-or-adenoidectomy-in-children-indications-and-contraindications?>

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/15/2016

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