How to treat inflamed tonsils

Updated February 21, 2017

Inflamed tonsils may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, an allergy, or acid reflux. Inflammation of your tonsils may cause severe pain and difficulty swallowing. You may notice white or red spots and prominent blood vessels on your tonsils. If you don't treat your condition promptly, you may experience complications, such as choking, difficulty breathing or severe pain. There are steps you can take to treat your inflamed tonsils.

See your doctor. You will need a physical examination to determine why your tonsils are inflamed. Your doctor will comprise his treatment plan based on the results of the examination. Your doctor may swab your throat to rule out a strep infection or he may refer you to an allergist. An allergist may conduct sensitivity tests to determine if you're allergic to certain substances.

Take antibiotics. If the cause of your inflamed tonsils is a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. It's important that you complete your entire prescription of antibiotics; if you don't, your infection may not completely clear up.

Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to treat your inflamed tonsils. These medications will not only reduce the inflammation, they will help alleviate tonsil or throat pain. Ask your doctor if anti-inflammatory medications are appropriate for your condition.

Add honey to warm tea and drink. This will help soothe your inflamed tonsils.

Suck on ice chips. Ice chips will treat your inflamed tonsils by constricting blood vessels and thereby reduce the swelling. Ice will also soothe your throat and minimise pain.


Suck on throat lozenges that contain benzocaine to reduce irritation and pain. Benzocaine lozenges mildly numb your throat to relieve soreness.


If your tonsils swell so much that they're almost touching, seek immediate medical attention. Severely swollen tonsils may block your airway and this requires emergency treatment to rapidly decrease swelling.

Things You'll Need

  • Physical examination
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Tea and honey
  • Ice
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About the Author

Meadow Milano has been a registered nurse for over 20 years, with extensive experience in emergency nursing, labor and delivery and general medicine. She has written numerous articles for nursing publications pertaining to health and medicine, and enjoys teaching in the clinical setting.