Enlarged tonsil and adenoid is a very common problem faced by children in their preschool and teenage years and is known as Tonsillitis. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, almost every child in the United States experiences at least one episode of tonsillitis.

There are generally three types of tonsils in kids:

  • Acute tonsillitis: These symptoms usually last 3 to 4 days but can last up to 2 weeks too.
  • Recurrent tonsillitis: This is when child get tonsillitis several times in a year.
  • Chronic tonsillitis: This is when child has a long term tonsilinfection.
enlarged Tonsil in Kids and its causes:

Tonsils are two oval shaped pads of lymphoid tissue located at the back of the throat, one on each side that helps the body to fight infection. Adenoids are located higher and further back, where the nasal passage connect with the throat. The tonsils are visible through mouth but the adenoids are not. The role of Tonsils and adenoids is to confine bacteria and viruses entering through the throat before they reach the rest of the body and to produce antibodies. Sometimes, bacteria and viruses get into the tonsils and infect them, which causes the enlargement of tonsils. School going children are more exposed to viral or bacterial infections and hence at more risk of Tonsillitis. The most common bacteria causing Tonsillitis is Streptococcus pyogenes that causes strep throat.

What are the Symptoms of enlarged tonsil

Tonsils in kids may vary depending on the cause and severity of infection. If kid’s throat hurts and it becomes difficult to eat, drink or even swallow, then he/ she might be suffering from enlarged tonsil or Tonsillitis.

Other symptoms include red, swollen tonsils, white or yellow patches on the tonsils, sore throat, fever, bad breath, stomach ache, scratchy or throaty voice, headache and neck pain.

In younger children who are unable to express properly, signs include drooling, refusal to eat and unusual fussiness. Normally, tonsils and adenoids return to their normal size when the infection is over.

Complications: Enlarged tonsils in kids are considered serious if they cause symptoms like chronic ear infections, obstructive sleep apnea, recurring sinusitis and difficulty in breathing. You should visit an ENT Doctor in such cases.

Treatment: Enlarged tonsils treatment usually depends on the cause. If the tonsillitis is caused by bacteria, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to kill bacteria. In case, it is caused by a virus, antibiotics don’t work and kid’s body will fight the infection on its own. In some cases, if the infection is severe and causing serious symptoms, doctors might advise surgery to remove the tonsils.

How to prevent it?

The germs causing tonsils in kids are contagious and hence following good hygiene practices might help to prevent it.

  • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently
  • Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses, bottles or utensils with other kids
  • Replace their toothbrushes after being diagnosed with tonsillitis

To prevent the spreading of infection to other kids in case your child is infected:

  1. Keep your child at home
  2. Teach your child to sneeze or cough into a tissue
  3. Teach your child to wash hands after sneezing or coughing
Home remedies to relieve the symptoms of enlarged tonsil
Drink plenty of warm liquids:

Drinking warm liquids like soups, broths and teas helps in soothing the sore throat. Herbal teas which include honey, pectin or glycerin, helps to form a protective film over the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat and thus help in soothing irritation.

Avoid Hard Foods:

Eating hard or sharp foods like chips, crackers, dry cereal, toast, raw carrots and apples may scratch the throat, resulting in further irritation and inflammation, and hence such foods should be avoided. 

Gargle with salt water:

Gargling with salt water helps to reduce the pain or tickling in the back of the throat. Warm salt water can help to disinfect the area and reduce inflammation. Salt water mixture can be made by adding a quarter teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water and stirring it until the salt dissolves. Gargle with salt water for a few seconds before spitting it out and repeat the process as and when necessary. Younger children should avoid it as they might inhale the fluid. Steam inhalation can also help to reduce the discomfort.

Increase Indoor Humidity:

Dry air can further add to the irritation in the throat and hence keeping a cool mist humidifier inside the room of a kid suffering from tonsillitis might help to relieve the discomfort.

Avoid straining the voice:

Since the voice becomes muffled due to the swelling in the throat, kid might be tempted to raise the voice, but this might further irritate the throat.

Get plenty of rest:

Taking proper rest at home allows the body to fight off the infection and even saves from any other infection which might be caught from going out.

Medicated throat candies (lozenges):

Medicated lozenges contain anaesthetic medicines to numb and soothe the throat and also contain anti-inflammatory drugs to comfort swelling and inflammation in the throat due o enlarged tonsil. For younger children, lozenges should be avoided as they might cause choking due to their big size.

Foods and herbs that can help:
Tulsi or Holy Basil:

Tulsi is a plant which is commonly found in most of the Indian households due to its medicinal properties. It has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It has qualities that help in reducing the swelling and pain in the throat and thus speed up the healing process. Drink made by boiling tulsi leaves also helps in boosting immunity. (Know some more foods that helps in boosting immunity)

  • Method:
  • Add 10 to 12 basil leaves to one and one-half cups of water. Boil for 10 minutes. Strain and add the juice from one lemon to the solution. Optionally, add one teaspoon of honey to sweeten it or 2 grams of black pepper to spice it up.Drink this three times a day for two to three days.

Cinnamon is rich in antimicrobial properties and hence suppresses the growth of bacteria in tonsils thereby comforting the pain, swelling and inflammation due to enlarged tonsil.

  • Method:
  • Add one teaspoon of cinnamon powder to a glass of hot water. Mix in two teaspoons of honey. Sip on it slowly while it is still warm. Drink this two or three times a day for one week.

Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities which help to fight the tonsil in kids and relieve the symptoms. Ayurveda recommends using 1 cup of hot water with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt mixed in. Gargle with this mixture morning and evening. It is particularly helpful before going to bed. It will help get rid of the inflammation and soreness. Alternatively, you can add one teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of ground black pepper to a glass of warm milk. Drink it at night for two to three days to speed up the healing process.

Fenugreek seeds or Methi:

Methi again has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that helps to fight the bacteria and gives instant relief from pain and inflammation.

  • Method:
  • Add two tablespoons of fenugreek seeds to two to three cups of water. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and let it cool. Gargle with this water for at least 30 seconds, and then spit it out. Repeat twice daily until you get comfort.
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