Your tonsils are located in your throat and can be seen through your mouth. It is a collection of lymphoid tissue that is part of the immune system. When it gets inflamed, it is known as tonsillitis and is one of the common reasons for a sore throat. Although tonsillitis can occur at any age in a person with tonsils, it tends to be more common among children. Recurrent tonsillitis can affect eating, lifestyle and even a child’s education and development. It is therefore common practice to remove the tonsils if it is posing a regular problem.
However, a tonsillectomy (surgical removal of the tonsils) are not ever person’s preferred choice of treatment. If you or your child is experiencing recurrent tonsillitis then there are some ways to prevent it. The most common cause of tonsillitis is an infection – both viral and bacterial. While viral infections of the tonsils tend to resolve on their own in a short period of time even without treatment, bacterial infections tend to need treatment with antibiotics. Less commonly, the inflammation may be due to trauma like chemical irritation from severe acid reflux.
Here are some tips to prevent recurrent tonsillitis, especially in children. Recurrent tonsillitis is defined as more than seven episodes of tonsillitis in one year, more than five episodes a year for two consecutive years or more than three episodes per year for three straight years.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Many of the germs that cause tonsillitis are very contagious. You can easily pick it up from the air you breathe but this is often unavoidable. However, transmission of germs through the hands is another common route, but it can be prevented. The key is good hygiene. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is very effective. Use an antibacterial soap as far as possible and antibacterial handwashes are good for when you are on the go. Always wash after using the toilet, before eating and following sneezing and coughing.
Avoid Sharing Food And Drinks
Saliva contains the germs that may cause an infection. By sharing food and drinks with an infected person, you are inevitably allowing the germs to enter your body. Sometimes these germs are in the air and can land on your food and drink which is unavoidable. But sharing food and drink is avoidable. Even if a person does not appear unwell, try not to share food and drinks in a way that will lead to cross-contamination. Rather split the food or drink before any person consumes it, or better yet try to avoid sharing altogether.
Minimize Contact With Others
You should not only try to prevent yourself from contracting an infection that will lead to tonsillitis but also be considerate of others. If you do have tonsillitis, you should minimize your contact with others. This applies to any infection, particularly if you know it is highly contagious. Stay away from school or work. Do not get too close to others at home who may contract the infection. Even a trip to the mall or other social outing means that you could infect people. Take the time to rest and keep contact with people to the bare minimum.
Consider Removing The Tonsils
A tonsillectomy is a very effective way of putting a stop to repeated tonsillitis. It does not mean that you will never get another sore throat ever. But it will give you a better quality of life if you do have tonsil problems. There are some myths and misconceptions surrounding a tonsillectomy, but it is a very safe procedure and complications are rare. It is especially necessary if your tonsillitis does not respond to antibiotics or if serious complications develop like a tonsillar abscess.
Try A Saltwater Gargle
It is one of the simplest solutions but also very effective. Just 1 teaspoon of regular table salt in an 8oz glass of water makes a quick and inexpensive gargle. It should only be used by adults and children who are at the age to gargle safely. Remember that while a saltwater gargle can be helpful, it does not replace medication prescribed by a doctor. Gargling with saltwater soothes the throat and may give you short term relief from the symptoms of tonsillitis but prescription drugs like antibiotics will destroy the bacteria that cause the problem.
Keep The Air Moist And Clean
Airborne irritants like cigarette smoke are known to increase a person’s chances of developing tonsillitis, even if they are not a smoker themselves. It is particularly problematic for children. Cigarette smoking should be explicitly avoided within the home but also be cautious with cleaning products and other strong chemicals, the vapor of which can also be an airborne irritant. Even dry air that contains no harsh airborne chemicals can be an irritant. A humidifier increases the moisture content in the air and is helpful for tonsillitis if you live in dry environments.
Rest And Plenty of Fluids
Getting sufficient rest when you have tonsillitis can make the difference in the duration and severity of your condition. But it is not only about being away from school or work and sleeping all day. Resting your voice is equally important. Try to keep talking to a minimum while your throat heals. Drink plenty of fluids as well. It is better tolerated compared to solid foods that may rub against the tonsils and irritate it further. However, you should not avoid eating altogether. Maintain good nutrition to keep your immune system up which helps to fight the infection alongside medication that you take.
Attend To Acid Reflux
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common digestive condition. The acidic stomach contents rise up into the esophagus and can even reach as high as the throat and nose. The acid may therefore irritate the tonsils and even damage it which can increase the chance of infections. Heartburn is the typical symptom of acid reflux but may sometimes not be present. Always attend to your acid reflux by changing your diet and lifestyle to reduce reflux, taking antacids and other OTC reflux medication or use prescription drugs for more persistent cases.