Tonsils are the pair of soft tissue organs (lymph nodes) located at the rear end of the throat (pharynx). These are responsible for the production of lymphocytes which are essential for the human body to fight and deal with foreign bodies or infections. The inflammation of the tonsils. i.e. Tonsillitis is usually caused by a viral infection, but, in some cases, it can result due to bacterial infection as well. A few of us tend to suffer from recurrent tonsillitis either due to a genetic tendency or due to a constant low immunity. Children are more commonly infected as compared to adults.
Tonsils produce Lymphocytes (white blood cells), which are the fighter cells, responsible for forming a strong immune system and protecting the human body from foreign invasion/infection. A few common symptoms of Tonsillitis are soreness in the throat, difficulty or pain in swallowing liquids (sometimes even solid food), change in the voice, bad breath, and fever.
It is important to stay away from the triggers of tonsillitis. Eliminating the triggers of tonsillitis will reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of flare-ups. Along with effective treatment for tonsillitis, it is important to take precautions to prevent tonsillitis episodes. Dependency on antibiotics for tonsillitis can cause antibiotic resistance leading to recurrent and chronic tonsillitis.
Let us know about the triggers or causes of tonsillitis.
What are the causes of tonsillitis?
Tonsils are the first line of defense to protect the body from infection. They work like soldiers which helps to fight against the bacteria and viruses which enter through the nose and mouth. A simple episode of the common cold can trigger tonsillitis. The causes of tonsillitis are as follows:
- Low immunity.
- Viral infection due to streptococcus.
- Recurrent cold and cough.
How long does tonsillitis last?
An episode of tonsillitis can last for 5-7 days. However, recurrent episodes of tonsillitis may occur due to lower immunity levels causing chronic tonsillitis. It is important to complete your antibiotic course in case of an acute episode of tonsillitis. Ignoring an acute tonsillitis infection can lead to chronic issues lasting for longer duration complications which include peritonsillar abscess, tonsil stones or middle ear infection.
Here are a few effective food items available at our home that are easy solutions to obtain relief from Tonsillitis.
1. Smoothies: Smoothies made by using fresh yogurt with some fresh fruits, such as berries, bananas, can help you obtain relief from tonsillitis. Or, you may go for ice-creams (not too chilled) to soothe your throat.
2. Warm Tea: A warm cup of tea will help you alleviate and clear throat dryness. Green tea, which is rich in antioxidant properties, will help reduce inflammation, boost your immunity, and keep you energetic and fresh. You can also prefer a green tea with basil, chamomile, ginger, or honey with a pinch of rock salt as per your taste.
3. Fruits: Fruits are natural sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which can promote a good recovery from tonsillitis and boost your immunity. A few power fruits which should be included in your diet are listed here.
- Pomegranates- Pomegranate is not only a good source of antioxidants but also a super fruit that helps in reducing inflammation of the tonsils, thus it helps in quick recovery.
- Bananas- Banana, being a soft fruit and always available at our home/ market, is a good supper food for tonsillitis. It offers you good amounts of nutrients and minerals, energy, and is easy to swallow. You can also make a homemade banana ice cream and smoothie for kids to keep them full and energetic.
- Applesauce: Unsweetened applesauce is gentle on the throat and provides a source of vitamins. It’s a smooth option for individuals experiencing difficulty swallowing.
- Papaya: Papaya is rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin C, which supports the immune system. Its soft texture makes it easy on the throat.
- Watermelon: Watermelon has high water content, contributing to hydration. It’s a refreshing choice and can help soothe a sore throat.
- Cantaloupe: Cantaloupe is another hydrating fruit that is soft and easy to eat. It provides vitamins and antioxidants to support overall health.
- Avocado: Avocado is a creamy and nutrient-rich fruit that can be added to smoothies or consumed in small, manageable portions.
- Berries: Berries like strawberries and blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. They can be blended into smoothies or mashed for easier consumption.
- Kiwi: Kiwi is packed with vitamin C and has a smooth texture. It provides a refreshing taste and can be sliced or blended into a soft consistency.
- Mango: Mangoes are not only delicious but also rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin A and vitamin C. They can be pureed for a smooth texture.
- Peaches: Soft and juicy, peaches are a good source of vitamins and can be enjoyed as slices or blended into a puree.
- Pineapple: Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s advisable to consume it in small, manageable pieces.
- Ripe melons: Ripe melons like honeydew or cantaloupe are hydrating and have a soothing texture. They can be sliced into small, bite-sized pieces.
These fruits not only provide essential nutrients but also contribute to hydration and comfort during tonsillitis. It’s crucial to choose fruits that are easy to consume and well-tolerated based on individual preferences.
4. Ginger & Honey: Honey and ginger offer a miraculous recovery from a sore throat. We all have used ginger and honey several times for treating dry cough, sore throat, and the scratching sensation in the throat.
- Ginger is one of the super herbs comprising antioxidant components, such as B- carotene, Flavonoids, tannins, Vitamin C, etc. It has a very long history of having medicinal properties and being used in our food preparations and preparations of various medicines.
- Likewise, honey is also rich in antioxidants and promotes healing. It acts as a natural cough suppressant when treating children over one year and also helps to induce good sleep.
How to use: For sore throat or bouts of dry cough, you can either keep a small piece of raw peeled ginger in your mouth or you can grate some ginger to extract the juice and have it properly. Besides these, you can boil crushed ginger and drink warm ginger juice (can add some honey for sweetness). Also, we all have eaten ginger candy for relief from soreness (made by our grandmother, now availed in stores, or can be made at home very easily).
5. Broth/Soups: Though warm foods or drinks are difficult to have during tonsillitis, a warm bowl of soups with fresh veggies and herbs will be beneficial to treat the sore throat, have ample of nutrients, and experience recovery from the discomforting condition.
6. Turmeric: Turmeric is a magical Indian spice with several medicinal properties, and it has been used for more than a thousand years to treat various health issues. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects with antioxidant properties and is a strong bioactive substance that fights inflammation at a molecular level. Thus, turmeric helps to repair the damage early. As Curcumin is not easily absorbed in our bloodstream, when you take it with black pepper (containing- piperine), it enhances the absorption.
How to Use: Boil a glass of milk with a teaspoon of turmeric powder and mix freshly pounded 3-4 black pepper seeds, simmer for 2-3 minutes, and have this remedial milk warm.
7. Sage: This green aromatic herb is available fresh, dried, or in oil form. It is loaded with antioxidants, antiseptic and anti-microbial properties. It helps in treating sore throat, cough, bad breath, oral health problems, etc.
How to use: You can prepare sage tea by pouring a cup of warm (almost boiling) water with a tablespoon of fresh or dried sage leaves in a vessel, keeping it covered for 5-10 minutes, straining it, and drinking this comforting tea for soothing effects. This herb can be always added to soups and broth to enhance the flavors along with its medicinal properties.
During tonsillitis Opt for a soft diet that is easy to swallow and won’t irritate the throat. Examples include mashed potatoes, oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies. These foods provide essential nutrients without causing additional discomfort during swallowing.
1) Mashed potatoes: Easy to swallow and comforting, mashed potatoes provide energy without irritating the throat.
2) Oatmeal: A warm and nourishing option, oatmeal offers a soft texture and is rich in nutrients.
3) Yogurt: Smooth and cool, yogurt is gentle on the throat and contains probiotics that support gut health.
4) Cottage cheese: Soft and mild, cottage cheese is a protein-rich choice suitable for a sore throat.
5) Avocado Toast: Avocado’s creamy texture on soft bread provides a nutrient-dense and easy-to-eat option.
8 Chamomile tea: Chamomile tea possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Sipping on warm chamomile tea can help reduce throat pain and promote relaxation. It’s a gentle option for hydration and comfort.
9 Cold treats: Cold treats like popsicles or ice chips can help numb the throat temporarily, providing relief from pain and reducing swelling. These are especially useful for individuals who find cold items soothing.
10 Herbal teas: Herbal teas, such as peppermint or licorice tea, can provide relief from throat irritation. Peppermint has a cooling effect, while licorice may have soothing properties.
Several food items which you should avoid during Tonsillitis are sour fruits, fried food items (such as potato wafers, bhajiyas, pakodas, etc.), spicy foods, ketchup, sauces, and toast, as all these can irritate your throat and can intensify your complaints.
Treatment For Tonsillitis:
A mild case of tonsillitis may not require any medication. Antibiotics are prescribed in major cases but, in case of severe and recurrent tonsillitis, surgical removal of tonsils (Tonsillectomy) may be needed. Hence, proper and timely measure is key.
However, if you suffer from moderate tonsillitis or recurrent problems of tonsillitis, homeopathy should be considered as the first choice to treat it effectively. It is important to address the concern of tonsillitis at an early stage. Flare-ups can be controlled well with tonsillitis homeopathic medicine. Moreover, difficult cases of tonsil stones showing inflammation and swelling can be addressed with homeopathy to some extent. Patients who would like to skip surgery in cases of tonsil stones can opt for a long-term plan for tonsillitis treatment in homeopathy to control the swelling and inflammation easing out the pain.
Homeopathy is highly recommended in majorly all cases of Tonsillitis. It can even help to avoid surgical removal of tonsils in many cases. Homeopathic medicines when chosen after a detailed individualistic case by an expert homeopath will not only treat the active symptoms but will also help in treating the recurrent tendency of Tonsillitis by improving your immunity to fight against foreign infections and promoting a speedy recovery.
- Go for food or drinks which are easy to swallow and which are soothing for your throat for a quick recovery.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Avoid having tea, coffee, smoking, and alcohol, as these can worsen your condition.
- Staying away from people having active tonsils infection. Also, if you have tonsillitis, try to stay away from others until you are not contagious.
Written by Dr. Nutan Singh, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah