What are the home remedies for tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis usually runs its course. The home remedies below may help to ease your/your child’s symptoms
- Get plenty of rest: Speed up your recovery by resting and avoiding vigorous activity.
- Gargle: Gargle with warm salt water three times a day to relieve a sore throat. Children should not try this. Make sure to spit out the salt water afterwards.
- Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
- Sip on warm beverages/drinks such as tea or chicken soup to reduce discomfort in the throat.
- Try to get yourself/your child plenty of fluids to drink, but don't force him or her to eat or drink.
- Offer your child small amounts of fluids, such as water or diluted juice, often.
- Drink honey, lemon juice and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger added to tea.
- Do not worry if your child stops eating for a day or two. Offer your child any foods they desire that are comfortable to swallow, such as jelly.
- Wash your hands: Hand washing is important to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause tonsillitis.
- Limit contact with others:
- Do not share utensils or toothbrushes if you/your child have tonsillitis because it can be contagious.
- Avoid prolonged contact with a person who has strep throat and has not been taking antibiotics for at least 24 hours because it can be contagious.
- Once you start feeling better and are no longer contagious, change your toothbrush.
- Humidity: A hot shower, steam and humidity may ease your breathing difficulty. Humidifiers can help relieve sore throat.
- Over-the-counter medicines:
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen for fever after consulting with a doctor, especially for your child.
- Read medication labels carefully to ensure the ingredients and dose are safe for your child. Do not give aspirin to children under the age of 16 years old.
- You can use over-the-counter treatments such as lozenges (strepsils), throat sprays or antiseptic solution to ease your pain and sore throat (avoid in children).
How will my doctor treat tonsillitis?
Your doctor will treat you/your child depending on the cause of your tonsillitis.
If the tonsillitis is caused due to bacterial infection such as a strep throat, then
- Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic, usually for 10 days.
- Complete the full course of antibiotics to avoid further complications such as an abscess or a heart condition such as rheumatic fever.
- After using antibiotics for 24 hours, you will most probably no longer be contagious.
If you/your child are diagnosed with viral tonsillitis, then
- Antibiotics may not be given initially.
- Throat lozenges, sprays and gargles may be prescribed.
- You may only need acetaminophen for fever and pain and anti-allergy medications for redness. These are enough to relieve your symptoms.
- Avoid giving your child aspirin because it may cause fatal Reye’s syndrome.
If your doctor diagnoses an abscess in the tonsils (quinsy), you must see an ENT specialist/otolaryngologist for further evaluation and drainage of pus from tonsils.
If your child has been suffering from frequent tonsillitis that has been impacting their general health and causing school absenteeism or breathing problems such as snoring or difficulty in swallowing, your pediatrician or ENT specialist may advise surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy). This procedure usually does not require hospitalization and your child can go home after a few hours of observation.
What are the complications of a tonsillectomy?
Complications with tonsillitis may be seen in young children. These include
- Tonsillar abscess: Collection of pus in the tonsillar tissue
- Quinsy (peritonsillar abscess): Collection of pus around the tonsil
- Otitis media: Infection of the middle ear
What should you expect during the course of the disease?
Many people improve in the first day or two. Usually, 9 out of 10 people will be better in a week.
- If you have a collection of pus around one tonsil, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Sometimes, you may need surgery to drain the pus.
- If you have been prescribed antibiotics, complete the whole course of antibiotics to avoid further complications and the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
- Children under the age of 7 years old may have large tonsils and their immune system is not fully developed to fight against infection. Therefore, your young child may have repeated bouts of tonsillitis. These episodes may become less frequent once your child grows older.
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