What is Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is a tonsil inflammation usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Streptococcus (Strep bacteria), Adenoviruses, influenza virus, Epstein- Barr virus, parainfluenza virus, enteroviruses, and herpes simplex virus are also common causes of tonsillitis. The tonsillar infection spreads and deeply penetrates nearby tissues. It is more common in children. There are majorly three types of tonsillitis, and they include;

Chronic tonsillitis refers to a long-term tonsil infection. Recurrent tonsillitis is when one has had a tonsil infection several times a year. Acute tonsillitis is when signs and symptoms usually last 3 to 4 days or even up to 1 to 2 weeks.

How to know if a child has tonsillitis

Make the child open his or her mouth with the tongue out or place the handle of a spoon on his or her tongue when the mouth is open while you shine a light on the back of the throat to view the tonsils deep into the child’s throat. See your paediatrician or a medical doctor if the tonsils look bright red and swollen or have a white or yellow coating.

Signs and symptoms of tonsillitis

Sore throat, Inflamed and swollen tonsils, sometimes severe enough to make it hard to breathe through the mouth, Fever and Loss of appetite. Difficulty swallowing and tender lymph nodes in the neck under the jaws, Red tonsils, Ear pain and White and yellow coating on the tonsils. Painful ulcers on the throat, Headache, Bad breath.

Treatment and Prevention for tonsillitis

An antibiotic can be used to treat a bacterial infection like strep. However, if the infection is viral, antibiotics are not needed. Some home remedies can also treat tonsillitis, like salt water gargling, which helps to soothe a sore throat and pain. It also reduces inflammation and treats the infection. Gargling lemon mixed with salt three times a day also helps to relieve pain since lemon is an anti-bacterial and contains vitamin C.  Ginger tea is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and reduces inflammation and discomfort. Popsicles, ice chips, cold and frozen drinks and foods like ice cream can mainly be helpful to children infected with tonsillitis.

Cold drinks and foods help to reduce and cool their throat. Ice pops lower the temperature of the nerve endings in the throat, thus reducing the pain signals. Gargling and rinsing the throat with pure aloe Vera juice can also be used to treat tonsillitis at home. This is due to the healing properties of aloe Vera thus can help the infected individual to recover faster. Aloe Vera also helps immediately relieve painful sore throat symptoms due to its inflammatory properties of aloe Vera. Ginger and hot water can also treat tonsillitis as a home remedy. In some parts of Uganda, young pumpkin leaves and salt is also used as a home remedy and is said to be very effective. Very severe cases of tonsillitis may involve surgery (tonsillectomy) 

Staying away from someone with tonsillitis, regular hand washing and not sharing food, drinks, utensils or personal items like toothbrushes with anyone, regular replacement of toothbrushes, covering your mouth when coughing, staying home when sick to avoid the spread of tonsillitis.


Practicing good oral hygiene is the most important preventive measure to prevent tonsillitis. That is by properly brushing your teeth and tongue and using a mouthwash that contains cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorhexidine, fluorides, essential oils and peroxides. By doing this, you can prevent the development of bacteria in your mouth.

Apio Nuame


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