How to cure swollen tonsils

Updated November 21, 2016

Tonsils are masses of lymphatic tissue that act as filters, protecting the body from the invasion of harmful bacteria. While the body has several sets of tonsils, the palatine tonsils are the most commonly referred to pair. When these tonsils become enlarged due to an infection, the result is a condition known as tonsillitis. Characterised by swollen tonsils, sore throat, low-grade fever and fatigue, tonsillitis is a common ailment and is generally treated at home.

Begin a liquid diet at the onset of symptoms. This will help keep you from becoming dehydrated and will also keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. Choose hot liquids, such as herbal tea and chicken soup, or cold drinks, such as vegetable juice, clear soda or water. Avoid highly caffeinated beverages such as coffee as they can aggravate the inflamed tissues and dairy products as they tend to thicken throat secretions, making it more difficult to swallow.

Gargle three times a day with a solution made from 1 cup of hot water, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of lime juice. This combination of ingredients helps kill the bacteria that are causing the infection. It also draws excess fluids from the swollen tissues, reducing inflammation and the accompanying discomfort it causes.

Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, following the directions on the packaging. These medications work to relieve throat pain, helping you to rest.

Place a humidifier in the room in which you are resting. By increasing the moisture in the air and thus the passages of the respiratory system, humidifiers make it easier to breathe and swallow. Alternatively, a miniature steam room can be created by holding your head over a bowl of hot water with a towel draped across your upper body to trap in the steam.

Rest your throat. Do not talk as this will only increase the irritation of the tissues. If you must talk, keep your voice low, but don't whisper as this is actually harder on your throat than speaking.


If your swollen tonsils persist after three to five days of self care, or if your symptoms seem to worsen rather than improve, consult a health care professional immediately for a clinical evaluation.

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About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.