Tonsil infections are a common ailment for kids in Goodyear—a rite of passage for many. Doctors frequently turned to surgery in the past but are far less likely to pick up a scalpel nowadays, preferring to see if home remedies will do the trick instead.
Why the Tonsils are Prone to Infection
The tonsils are small, oval-shaped organs in the back of the throat made up of soft tissue. They serve as a defense mechanism, helping the immune system ward off bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, their frequent contact with germs makes them susceptible to inflammation and infection. This can lead to tonsillitis.
Viral infections are responsible for most cases of tonsillitis; bacterial infections make up between 15-30 percent of cases. Most children in Goodyear will suffer at least one case of tonsillitis while growing up. Because the tonsils begin to shrink around the age of 12, infections are much rarer in adults.
The go-to treatment for tonsillitis has long been surgical removal, but tonsillectomy has fallen out of favor in recent years; it’s viewed as an unnecessary procedure in otherwise health patients. Your Goodyear ENT recommends at-home treatments instead.
The Most Successful Treatments Include:
- Drinking warm liquids. Soup, broth and tea help soothe irritation associated with swelling and infection. Additionally, herbal teas contain ingredients like honey and glycerine, which form a protective film over the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat.
- Eating cold foods. Kids were often given the green light to eat ice cream following a tonsillectomy. There was a reason for this: cold, soft foods numb the throat, helping to relieve pain. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, Popsicles and smoothies are all excellent choices.
- Avoiding hard foods. Hard, sharp foods can scratch and irritate the throat, worsening irritation. Stay away from foods such as potato chips, crackers, cereal, toast, apples and carrots.
- Gargling with warm salt water. Dissolving a quarter teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargling for several seconds before spitting the water out helps soothe throat pain and irritation. Repeat this every couple of hours.
- Using a humidifier. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, helping to soothe irritated passageways. If you don’t have a humidifier, running a hot shower, closing the bathroom door and inhaling warm steam will also do the trick.
- Avoid straining the voice. Throat inflammation can cause a muffled voice. Resting your voice as much as possible will help prevent strain and further irritation.
- Getting rest. Resting helps your body build up strength to fight off the infection. Get as much sleep as possible so your body can heal. Staying home instead of going to school or work will also prevent the possibility of infecting others.
- Using over-the-counter pain relievers. Alleviate throat pain and discomfort by taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Don’t give young children aspirin; this can cause a potentially fatal illness called Reye’s syndrome.
- Sucking on throat lozenges. Lozenges include soothing ingredients like menthol, which help numb the throat, relieve irritation and reduce swelling. Keep in mind that they pose a choking hazard to young children and should be avoided.
- Using throat sprays. Over-the-counter throat sprays contain anesthetic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic medications that can relieve pain and inflammation. Look for sprays with ingredients such as benzydamine, phenol, dibucaine, benzocaine, benzyl alcohol, cetylpryidimium chloride and chlorhexidine gluconate.
If tonsillitis doesn’t resolve after a few days or is accompanied by the following symptoms, make an appointment with a Goodyear ear, nose and throat specialist for further evaluation:
- A sore throat that lasts more than two days
- Pain so severe it interferes with eating and drinking
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Extreme weakness and fatigue
- A fever that lasts longer than three days