Overview - Tonsillitis

One of the commonest complaints amongst children and affecting as many as one out of every 10 people worldwide, tonsillitis is surely one condition that demands a lot of attention from medical experts. Commonly known as sore throat, tonsillitis is basically an inflammation of the tonsils which are protective glands (lymph glands) situated in the throat.

Tonsils play a vital role in protecting the body against harmful bacteria and viruses. However, when the immunity reduces, the tonsils themselves fall prey to these infective organisms thereby resulting in swelling (inflammation) of the tonsils. On account of tonsillitis, patient experiences pain in the throat, difficulty in swallowing, fever, etc.

Surgical removal of tonsils was once a very common method of treating tonsillitis; however, it has now been proved that surgical treatment is not the only option for chronic and recurrent tonsillitis. Research studies have now clearly shown that Homeopathy is very effective in treating cases of tonsillitis safely and gently and without any side effects. The immunomodulatory, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of homeopathic medicines have now been accepted as playing an important role in treating tonsillitis. At Dr. Batra's, we have been treating cases of tonsillitis for 35 years now and have had good results in most cases. The treatment has helped many patients to avoid get operated upon. Go ahead and experience the goodness of Homeopathy at Dr. Batra's.

What is Tonsillitis?

Inflammation or infection of the tonsils is medically termed as tonsillitis. Tonsils are protective (lymph) glands that are situated on both sides in the throat. The tonsils constitute an important part of the body's immune system and are vital defense organs. They protect the body from bacteria and viruses by fighting these as soon as they enter the body (via the oral/nasal cavity). The tonsils along with adenoids are said to form the 'first line of defense' against infective organisms.

In the normal state, tonsils are pink in color (similar to their surroundings tissues) and about the same size. When the tonsils get inflamed, they become red, swollen and may develop pus pockets that start exuding a discharge. In cases with recurrent infections, the tonsils may become so swollen over a period of time so as to almost touch each other.

There are three types of tonsillitis:

  • Acute tonsillitis- An episode of tonsillitis that has been of recent origin is termed as acute tonsillitis. Acute tonsillitis can last for anywhere between four to ten days. It is commonly caused by virus or bacteria.
  • Sub-acute tonsillitis - This type of tonsillitis is commonly caused by the bacterium Actinomyces and lasts for more than 2 weeks.
  • Chronic, recurrent tonsillitis - Chronic tonsillitis is mostly caused by bacteria and lasts long periods. There may be enlargement of tonsils in cases of chronic infection. In case of recurrent tonsillitis, the patient tends to get episodes of tonsillitis repeatedly and remains symptom-free in between these episodes. It has been seen that recurrent episodes of tonsillitis can lead to scarring of the tonsils and renders them less capable of fighting against infections.

Tonsillitis can affect people of all ages though it tends to be very common amongst children especially those between the ages of 5 to 10 years. No particular gender predilection is seen in cases of tonsillitis.

Causes of Tonsillitis

In a vast majority of cases, tonsillitis is cause by a viral infection (i.e. due to a virus). Certain bacteria can also cause tonsillitis and Streptococcal bacteria have been found to be the culprit in some cases. These are the same bacteria that cause streptococcal throat infection. Tonsillitis can rarely be caused by fungus or parasites also.

A number of food substances can lead to tonsillitis in susceptible individuals and common triggers include foods with artificial colors and preservatives, peanuts, cold foods, cold drinks, ice creams, sour foods, etc. The possible mechanism may be triggering of an abnormal immune response on exposure to any of these substances which acts as an allergen.

Episodes of tonsillitis can also be triggered by environmental changes though the exact mechanism has not been clearly understood. Changes of weather, extremely cold climate, damp weather, exposure to a lot of pollution, etc. can all trigger an episode of tonsillitis.

Tonsillitis can easily spread from one person to another via droplet infection. When a person with tonsillitis coughs or sneezes, the infection is dispersed in the air in the form of minute droplets which when inhaled by a healthy individual can lead to infection. These droplets can also settle on certain objects (e.g. handkerchief, telephone receiver, door handles, etc.) and when these objects come in contact with the nose, mouth or eyes of a healthy individual, the infection can get transmitted.

Crowded places such as shopping malls, theatres, classrooms, etc. form a fertile ground for the infections to thrive and spread further to more and more people.

Thus there are multiple factors that work together in conjunction to cause tonsillitis in any given case.

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

The symptoms of tonsillitis vary from case to case and may be gradual or sudden in onset. In most cases of tonsillitis, a varying combination of the following symptoms is seen:

  • Soreness of throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing or painful swallowing of food and drinks
  • Pain / discomfort while swallowing saliva
  • Fever with or without chills
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • White spots (specks or patches) on the tonsils
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck region
  • Change of voice
  • Bad breath, foul breath
  • Pain in the ears (due to common nerve supply of the back of the throat and ears)
  • Headache
  • Malaise, tiredness
  • Difficulty in taking feeds in babies - this may be the sole indicator in some cases of tonsillitis in infants

In certain cases of tonsillitis, the following symptoms may also be seen:

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rash

If left untreated, tonsillitis can lead to the development of any of the following:

  • Chronic tonsillitis: When infection of the tonsils persists, it leads to formation of small pockets in the tonsils where bacteria thrive for extended periods and lead to chronic tonsillitis. This may further lead to formation of small calcified pieces called tonsilloliths that remain lodged on the tonsils. Tonsilloliths emit a foul smelling, rotten egg like odor (halitosis) which gives rise to bad breath. Patient frequently experiences a foreign body sensation in the back of the throat due to tonsilloliths.
  • Peritonsillar Abscess: Collection of pus behind the tonsils is called peritonsillar abscess. Patients who develop peritonsillar abscess experience severe pain in the throat and difficulty in opening mouth. This condition can spread to cause life-threatening complications if not attended to promptly.
  • Enlargement of tonsils (Hypertrophic tonsils): Enlarged tonsils can obstruct breathing leading to snoring and disturbed sleep pattern. Obstructed breathing due to enlarged tonsils can be seen in patients as frequent waking at night, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness during daytime, irritability, etc.
Diagnosis of Tonsillitis

Diagnosis of tonsillitis can easily be made by the treating physician based on the history given by the patient and the findings on examination. Examination of the throat in tonsillitis reveals:

  • Redness and swelling of the tonsils
  • Pus pockets on the tonsils
  • Discharge from the tonsils
  • In case of peritonsillar abscess, there may be a shift of the involved tonsil towards the center of the throat. The uvula may be shifted towards the opposite side (away from the affected tonsil).

The treating physician may order certain tests that will confirm the diagnosis of tonsillitis. These tests include:

  • Throat swab: This is used to get a sample of the secretion from the back of the throat. The sample is then checked in a laboratory for the presence of bacteria.
  • Blood tests: This primarily includes a complete blood count (CBC) which is done to confirm the presence of infection.
Homeopathic treatment

Homeopathy treatment of tonsillitis is time-tested and has proven to be useful in most cases. In one of the research studies conducted on 107 patients of acute tonsillitis, all the cases were treated with Homeopathic remedies (Phytolacca americana, Guajacum officinale, Capsicum annuum) and no antibiotics were used. In as less as two and a half days after starting treatment, a significant reduction in the symptoms of acute tonsillitis was seen in the patients. No serious side effects were reported at all in any of the cases. The treatment had been prescribed after taking into account objective as well as subjective symptoms of the patients. This study thus concluded that acute tonsillitis can be successfully treated with Homeopathy. It also clinically proved the immune-modulatory, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties of homeopathic remedies.

At Dr. Batra's, we have been treating cases of tonsillitis (acute, chronic, recurrent) for 35 years now and have had good response in most cases. Thousands of cases that have been treated at Dr. Batra's have reported freedom from the recurrent attacks of tonsillitis and have been saved from surgery for the same.

Homeopathic treatment targets the root cause of the ailment and reduces the tendency of the patient to fall prey to frequent attacks of tonsillitis. It improves the immunity of the patient and thus provides long term benefits rather than simply controlling the acute infection as happens with conventional medicines. Thus patients of tonsillitis who opt for timely and regular homeopathic treatment have a reduced need for antibiotics or may even be able to avoid the same completely.

Regular treatment with homeopathic medicines ensures that the patient gets lesser attacks of tonsillitis and even when they do occur, they are not as severe and are easily controlled with proper medication. The good part about Homeopathy treatment is that it is without any side effects and thus is completely safe and non-toxic. For effective and safe solution to acute, chronic or recurrent tonsillitis, Homeopathy is indeed the best.

Self care tips for Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis can usually be tackled well with Homeopathy medicines; however some self-help tips can help patients to cope better with their discomfort. Based on our experience of treating a large number of patients with Homeopathy at Dr. Batra's, we have found that following certain clinical tips make a lot of difference to tonsillitis patients and helps them deal better with the pain and suffering of tonsillitis.

Here are few of the important clinical tips that can be used in cases of acute, chronic and recurrent tonsillitis:

  • Gargle with warm water (one cup) to which 1 teaspoon of salt has been added - repeat this twice in a day or more frequently if required
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Patient may not feel like drinking fluids on account of the throat pain but should still consume lot of water to keep the throat moist and to prevent dehydration
  • A humidifier should be used in the room where the patient is resting or working
  • Avoid spicy foods, smoking, acidic drinks
  • Suck on throat lozenges as they soothe the pain
  • Avoid eating food and limit the intake to soups, milkshakes, etc. if the throat is very bad and the patient cannot eat at all
  • Make a drink by mixing honey and lemon juice in warm water - sip it often to soothe the throat and reduce mucus production
  • Care for others too - keep your mouth covered while coughing or sneezing and wash your hands regularly to keep them clean