Swollen Tonsils

Swollen tonsils are often referred to as "tonsillitis". During the process of fighting infection, tonsils sometimes swell in response to viral and bacterial infections of the upper respiratory system. To get better remedies, you should know about the causes and symptoms of swollen tonsils.


Symptoms and Causes of Swollen Tonsils


The hallmark symptom of tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils resulting in sore throat, yellow or white patches on the tonsils, blisters on the tongue and mouth, fever, chills and difficulty swallowing and breathing. Other symptoms may include headache, earache, swollen neck glands, and loss of appetite. Additional symptoms in children may include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.


Bacteria and viruses are the most common causes of swollen tonsils. The most common cause of bacterial tonsillitis is the streptococcus bacteria -- resulting in "strep throat". Viral causes of swollen tonsils include the influenza virus, herpes simplex virus, Epstein-Barr virus, and various adenoviruses and enteroviruses.

Home Remedies for Swollen Tonsils

For viral infections and symptomatic relief for bacterial infections, home remedies can help make you more comfortable as the body heals.

Over-the-counter Medication

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen will help relieve the pain and swelling associated with swollen tonsils.

Liquid Diet

Try a liquid diet for a few days. Taking hot and cold liquids may help soothe the pain of swollen tonsils. Be sure to take liquids that provide enough calories to keep your blood sugar and strength up. Avoid caffeine and dairy products since these will tend to increase the inflammation and pain.


Make a warm water saline solution using 1 cup of warm water, 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Use water that is as warm as you can tolerate. Stir these ingredients together until the salt is dissolved. Gargle with the solution 2-3 times each day to help kill the germs and pull fluid out of the swollen tonsils.


Increase the moisture in the air by running a cool mist humidifier. The increased moisture in the air will humidify your upper airways and make it easier to breathe.

Enough Rest

Finally, be sure to get enough sleep and take frequent rest periods during the day until you begin to feel better. Rest your voice by decreasing the amount you talk since talking tends to increase throat irritation.

Medical Treatments for Swollen Tonsils

Treatment for Virus

Viral tonsillitis cannot be treated with antibiotics so treatment will consist of symptomatic support. This treatment will consist of the home remedies listed below.

Treatment for Bacteria

Doctor will prescribe antibiotics for swollen tonsils caused by bacteria. The antibiotics will be in the form of an injection or as a prescription for pills to be taken over a number of days. Typically, you will begin to feel much better within 48 hours after starting antibiotics and it is critical to take the antibiotics until they are gone. Otherwise you run the risk of having infection return with a vengeance and this can cause antibiotic resistance.


For tonsillitis that is recurrent or leads to respiratory issues, your doctor may send you to a surgeon to discuss having your tonsils removed. A tonsillectomy can be done in the traditional way with a scalpel or with more modern techniques using a laser or electrical cautery.


Seek Medical Care Immediately

Any time you have a sore throat, particularly if your tonsils are swollen, it is critical to see your healthcare provider to determine the cause of the swelling. Even before you get a diagnosis, you should begin using some of the home remedies to relieve the pain and swelling.

No Aspirin for Children

Although aspirin is an excellent medication to relieve pain, you should never give aspirin to children under the age of 18 years of age. Aspirin in children has been linked to a potentially fatal disease called Reye's syndrome.