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Tonsils are lymph nodes that can be found in the back of the mouth. Their function is to protect the body from infection by filtering out microorganisms. When the tonsils become overwhelmed by a viral or bacterial infection, they become inflamed (tonsillitis). Tonsillitis is very common and occurs mostly in children who are 5-10 years of age.
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Tonsillitis Symptoms (viral)
- gradual onset
- sore throat
- low-grade fever
- rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane)
- hoarse voice
- slight or moderate enlargement of tonsils.
Tonsillitis Symptoms (bacterial)
- abrupt onset
- fever increased to 104° F (40° C)
- rhinitis, cough, and hoarseness are uncommon
- headache, severe sore throat, and stomach pain are common
- enlarged tonsils.
Sometimes, tonsils can swell enough to make it difficult or impossible for air to pass from the nose to the throat. As a result, the child breathes through the mouth. Continuous mouth breathing can cause the back of the mouth to become dry and irritated. The child can have an offensive mouth odor (bad breath) and their senses of taste and smell can be impaired. Eustachian tubes can also become blocked, resulting in ear infections.
The only reliable method for determining whether tonsillitis is caused by a virus or bacteria is to have the doctor swab the affected area. This will identify organisms causing the infection.
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Natural Remedies for Tonsillitis
Your child should avoid solid foods. Soft foods are generally preferred. Cottage cheese, apple sauce, ripe bananas, well-cooked vegetables, broth, creamed soups, cooked cereals, and pancakes are some soft foods you can try giving your child. To help soothe their throat, give ice cream, popsicles, or frozen yogurt.
Have your child drink plenty of fluids (avoid drinks with caffeine). Include water and fresh vegetable juices (juicing). Beet, carrot, and celery juice are especially beneficial. They can help enhance your child's immune system to fight off the infection. You can also squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon into a cup of warm water and have your child sip on it slowly.
Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water and have your child gargle with it several times a day. This will help dull pain.
Gargling with fenugreek tea is especially helpful when your child is experiencing really painful tonsillitis symptoms. Add 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seed to 1 cup of hot water, steep for 15 minutes, and strain.
Apply a moist hot compress (not too hot) to your child's throat for 20 minutes at a time.
Getting plenty of rest and using a cool-mist vaporizer (to keep mucous membranes moist) are other natural remedies for tonsillitis.
If your child was given antibiotics, have them eat yogurt (with live bacteria - probiotic) for a few days after completing their course of antibiotics. This will help replace good bacteria destroyed by antibiotics.
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Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
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