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Tonsillitis - Inflammation or Infection of the Tonsils

Infant and Children, Immune, Inflammation | December 11, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Children, Immune, infection, infants

Tonsillitis - Inflammation or Infection of the Tonsils

Tonsillitis is an acute swelling of the tonsils caused from a viral or bacterial infection. The tonsils are located in the throat. Tonsillitis is common in children and can be a problem if the tonsils become so enlarged, they obstruct breathing. Tonsillitis is often associated with pharyngitis and the adenoids in the nose, and is especially prevalent in children.

The tonsils are 2 lumps of lymphatic tissue located in the back of the throat and along with the adenoids, are part of the lymphatic system which clears away germs from our nose and mouth. This is known as the systemic immune surveillance system.

Inflamed tonsils can be caused by a virus or bacterial infection. Tonsillitis itself is not infectious, but the bacterial or viral cause of the disorder is. Not all sore throats are tonsillitis.

Who gets tonsillitis?

Generally, tonisillitis occurs in children over the age of 2 years and mostly between the ages of 5 and 15. Adults can get tonsillitis but this does not occur as much as in children.

Symptoms and Signs of Tonsillitis​Symptoms and Signs of Tonsillitis

  • Very sore throat – is the usual tell-tail sign
  • Trouble swallowing and hoarse voice
  • Swollen, red tonsils that may have purulent exudates (pus)
  • Glands in the neck enlarged and may be tender
  • Coated tongue that is white or yellow
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Malaise

Young children who are unable to communicate symptoms may lose their appetite or drool. Other symptoms that may indicate a viral infection such as runny nose, cough, headache and tummy upsets may accompany tonsillitis.


The doctor will be able to diagnose from signs and symptoms and may do a swab test to determine if the infection is bacterial, and if so from what bacteria. The virus that can result in inflamed tonsils is usually the common cold virus such as adenovirus, rhinovirus, influenza, coronavirus, and respiratory syncytial virus, but other viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus, or HIV can also occasionally be responsible. If a bacterial infection is involved it is often streptococcus bacteria.

Treating Tonsillitis

General treatment is the usual for any common viral infection. Rest and drink plenty of water. Gargling with salt water, eating ice or ice blocks can help to help soothe the throat, and keep the diet easy to swallow as in soft foods and soups, The doctor may order a course of antibiotics in the case of bacterial infection. You should visit the doctor if symptoms don’t improve or get worse, if breathing becomes difficult, there is severe pain or a high persistent fever. In severe or persistent conditions surgery may need to be performed, this is known as a tonsillectomy.

Natural therapies to help

Treating TonsillitisPrevention is always easier than cure and even though tonsillitis is not always preventable, having a healthy body can help to stop viruses and bacteria taking over. 
The tonsils are part of the body’s own defence system in preventing illnesses.

Support a healthy immune system by eating a healthly diet, getting plenty of rest, relaxation and reducing stress.

Growing children can be at risk of being nutrient deficient when they are fussy eaters, have quick growth spurts or are active in sports. If your child is continuously getting sick, ask yourself first are they receiving enough nutrients in their food, getting enough sleep, practicing good hygiene (hand washing), or are they doing too many activities (not getting enough 'down time').

Nutrients that support immunity


Zinc is found in beef, lamb, oysters and other sea foods, egg yolks, milk, whole grains, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Infection and poor appetite, can increase the demand for zinc. In fact a poor appetite may indicate a deficiency of zinc, as does recurrent infections, loss of taste and smell and learning difficulties. Supplements are available as lozenges, liquids and tablets.
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Vitamin C

Most children love sucking on vitamin C lozenges. Vitamin C is good for acute and chronic conditions of the immune system. Try to increase vitamin C rich foods in the diet whether child or adult. These include everybody’s favourite (NOT) - brussel sprouts and broccoli, - don’t over-cook but steam gently. Citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple and tomatoes are also great choices, and remember - fresh is best.
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Vitamin A

Infection increases demand for this fat-soluble vitamin. Found in apricots, butter, hard and soft cheeses, carrots, egg yolk, salmon, green leafy vegetables and cod-liver oils.
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Herbs to Help

Natural therapies to helpEchinacea (Purpurea, augustifolia or pallida) – if you were to pick one herb to help with the immune system it would be echinacea. 

Echinacea helps modulate the immune system, it is antimicrobial and helps with fevers. Its anti-inflammatory and healing action make it useful in any acute inflammatory conditions.
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Andrographis - for relief of the symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections such as colds and sore throats.

Pelargonium sidoides – can help with symptoms of URI’s and reduce recovery time.

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) – is a useful herb when there is an over-abundance of mucous involved – such as with head colds and ear congestion.

Olive leaf can support the immune system and is available in liquid, lozenge or throat spray for soothing relief.
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Marshmallow root, sage and ginger are soothing on an inflamed throat. Look for throat sprays, lozenges or teas containing these products.

Propolis is a substance produced from bees with many properties to help with the immune system. Its active ingredients are helpful against viral and bacterial infections and anti-inflammatory actions help soothe an inflammed throat.
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Choose product with these ingredients that are age appropriate and caution is advised in the use of propolis if allergy to bee products.

How to Avoid Tonsillitis

How to Avoid TonsillitisLike all bacteria and virus preventions, frequent washing of hands is advised.

Eat fresh fruit and vegetables, proteins rich food such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs and combinations of nuts, seeds and grains.

Get plenty of rest and relaxation to encourage good health

Summing up

  • Tonsillitis is a throat infection that may be caused by a virus or bacteria
  • The tonsils are good guys that help stop germs  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Tonsillitis and sore throat in children

Fisher, Carole; 2009, MATERIA MEDICA OF WESTERN HERBS, Vitex Medica, New Zealand.

Henry, Osiecki; The Nutrient Bible 9th Edition, Bio Concepts, AG Publishing; QLD, Australia

Antimicrobial Activities of European Propolis Collected from Various Geographic Origins Alone and in Combination with Antibiotics

Antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, and cytotoxic properties of various Brazilian propolis extracts

Phytochemical-rich medicinal plant extracts suppress bacterial antigens-induced inflammation in human tonsil epithelial cells

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