How to treat swollen tonsils

Updated February 21, 2017

Tonsils are the first line of defence in the mouth. They provide some protection against disease. These two egg-shaped lymph glands reside at the back of the throat, one on either side. At times the tonsils redden and become swollen with infection. This condition is referred to as tonsillitis. It can be an acute case or chronic. The cause is generally a viral or bacterial infection. Treating swollen tonsils is generally a simple process.

Schedule a doctor's visit to determine the cause of your swollen tonsils. The physician may need to take a throat culture in addition to visually examining your tonsils. If she determines a bacterial infection is to blame, she will likely prescribe antibiotics. If the infection is viral, antibiotics will not help, and the physician will probably only prescribe medication to make the patient feel better.

Gargle frequently with warm salt water. This will soothe your sore throat and make swallowing somewhat easier.

Ingest plenty of water and other liquids in order to keep your throat moist and your body hydrated. Sipping warm teas and broths is especially helpful in easing the pain of swollen tonsils.

Rest as much as possible while suffering from tonsillitis. Sleep will help you heal. Avoid strenuous physical activity.

Reside and sleep in well-ventilated rooms. Also, step outside periodically to take advantage of the fresh air. Try to stay away from dusty areas, which can irritate your throat further.

Eat a nutritious diet while your tonsils are swollen. You will probably want to stick with soft foods such as soups, yoghurts, mashed potatoes and pastas because they are easier to swallow.

Invest in a cool-mist humidifier to add moisture to your room. The extra humidity will soothe your sore throat.

Deaden your pain with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, naproxen sodium or ibuprofen. While these drugs will not cure tonsillitis, they will help you rest better so you can recover sooner.

Pay a repeat visit to your physician if your throat does not improve in a week or two. The doctor may need to take a closer look at your throat and may prescribe steroids if your tonsils are severely swollen.


Limit your speaking when you have tonsillitis so your throat can rest.


Avoid spicy foods, highly acidic beverages and alcohol while recovering from tonsillitis. Do not smoke while you have swollen tonsils.

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About the Author

Lisa Mooney has been a professional writer for more than 18 years. She has worked with various clients including many Fortune 500 companies such as Pinkerton Inc. She has written for many publications including Woman's World, Boy's Life and Dark Horizons. Mooney holds bachelor's degrees in both English and biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.