Treating a sore throat and swollen tonsils at home can be an effective measure for preventing an unnecessary doctor’s visit. Inflammation of the tonsils, also called tonsillitis, can be caused by irritants, a dry environment, viruses, bacteria or allergies. Swollen tonsils, although uncomfortable, do not always warrant an immediate visit to a physician. Swollen tonsils can be treated effectively with home remedies. You can use these remedies in conjunction with any treatment prescribed by a physician.
Increase the humidity of the environment by using a room humidifier or sitting in a steamy room. This will help soothe any irritation caused by a dry environment. Alternately, fill a sink with hot water and lean over the sink basin with a towel over your head for a few minutes to drain the sinuses and soothe the throat.
Gargle with a warm salt water solution several times a day. Salt water not only relieves throat pain but also reduces swelling. Dissolve 1 tsp. of salt in 8 oz. of water to make the salt water solution.
Drink warm beverages, such as hot tea, broth or warm water to ease discomfort and reduce swelling. Do not consume hot beverages as this could create additional throat pain.
Take over-the-counter pain relievers, as needed, for comfort. You can also use throat lozenges or throat sprays that contain a pain reliever, such as benzocaine, in conjunction with many over-the-counter pain medications.
Rest as much as possible and avoid activities that irritate the throat, such as yelling or smoking.
Avoid second-hand smoke and reduce or stop smoking while the throat is sore. Throw out any toothbrush used while the throat is actively sore to prevent recurrence of infection. Replace toothbrushes every month to reduce potential germ build-up on the brush. Consider staying home from work or school during the course of any swollen tonsil episode to prevent spreading an illness to others.
A sore throat lasting more than a few days, especially if accompanied by a fever of higher than 101 degrees F, should be evaluated by a physician. Difficulty breathing, severe pain or the presence of a rash also calls for a doctor’s visit as they may indicate more serious illness. Never give aspirin to children to treat a fever or sore throat. The use of aspirin in children has been linked to a serious condition called Reye Syndrome. If antibiotics are prescribed to treat swollen tonsils, complete the entire course of the prescription, as discontinuing the medication early can lead to more serious infections.