 what are tonsils
 what is tonsillitis
 how does tonsillitis occur
 causes of tonsillitis
 who is at risk
 signs & symptoms of tonsillitis
 detection & diagnosis
 prevention of tonsillitis
 treatment
 what can homoeopathy do
 circumstances for treatment
 what to do during an attack

have you ever seen the immune system of your body? Little to ponder if you have seen a tonsil then you would know that it is the only visible side of our immune system.

Just a generation ago children could count on their tonsils being removed and to soothe the pain given an ice cream at the end of the ordeal, as surgery had remained the most popular option to treat repeated attacks of tonsillitis.. But now after realizing the importance of the primary protective function of the tonsils it is now being refrained from.

What are tonsils?

There are eight pairs of lymph tissue around the ear, nose and throat region which stand guard to the bacteria and viruses or simply any foreign invaders entering through our nose and throat. The small dimpled golf balls in the oral pharynx on either side of the throat are the tonsils and are one of the eight pairs of lymph tissues we are talking about.

They are made of lymph tissue which are rich in white blood cells and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies when they identify the bacteria and viruses entering through the mouth, nose, sinuses etc.

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is the name given to the red, swollen and tender tonsils. The appearance is because of inflammation of the tonsillar tissue by bacteria, viruses etc. There could be an appearance of white accumulation on the tonsils.

How does tonsillitis occur?

Tonsils are a pair of specialized lymph nodes and as a part of our immune system protect us from micro-organisms that may cause infection. They do so by storing white blood cells which engulf bacteria and viruses as they enter through our nose and mouth. When the white blood cells engulf bacteria and viruses they produce a low-grade infection of the tonsils. This minor infection stimulate the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against future such infections.

But sometimes the tonsils are overwhelmed by the infective agents and becomes swollen and inflamed resulting in tonsillitis.

Causes of tonsillitis:

 most of the respiratory infective agents also cause tonsillitis.

 one of the common causes is streptococcus pyogenes and the condition is usually referred to as strep throat. This bacteria is known to be the agent which infects about 30% of cases in children. But it is only 10% of cases of tonsillitis in adults.

 viruses that tend to cause common cold can cause tonsillitis like the influenza virus and para-influenza virus.

 tonsillitis can also be caused during conditions like infectious mononucleosis.

Who is at risk?

 tonsillitis is uncommon during the first year of life.
 but the incidence increases during the age of three to six years.
 it is common in kindergarten children when they are in close contact for a few hours during the day and the viruses are transmitted from one to another more easily and frequently.

 just like other respiratory infections, tonsillitis is also common if we are exposed to smoke, dust, cold etc.
 it can also occur in adults when they are exposed and prone to tobacco smoke.

Signs & symptoms of tonsillitis:

~ generally children complain of sore throat with pain on swallowing. There could also be difficulty in swallowing.

~ children also tend to suffer from blocked nose especially while lying down and may cause snoring.

The other common symptoms are:

# fever usually high grade if the infection is due to bacteria.
# headache
# nausea and vomiting
# cough
# hoarseness of voice
# running nose
# redness of tonsils and throat
# tenderness of glands of neck
# redness of eyes
# rash on the skin.

# pain radiating from the throat into the ears.

# loss of appetite

detection & diagnosis:

on examination of the oral pharynx since the tonsils are red and inflamed in cases of tonsillitis it is not difficult to diagnose the same. There could also be a membranous formation of white patches due to chronic infections.

Throat swab culture can easily show the causative agent in case it needs to be identified.

Prevention of tonsillitis:

+ the causative agents of tonsillitis tend to spread through droplet infection so the aim in prevention would be in that direction.

+ proper hand washing remains the best solution to prevent all infections including tonsillitis. Using soap and running water and proper rinsing would go a long way to prevent the above.

+ sharing utensils, drinking glasses with the infected person will increase the probability of contracting the infection.

+ children to be taught to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing as the bacteria tend to be transmitted during the same.


any mode of treatment would aim to relieve the infection and prevent further infections from occurring.

What can homoeopathy do?

 homoeopathy can relieve an acute attack of tonsillitis.
 the cause of repeated attacks of tonsillitis is because of overwhelming infections making the immune system susceptible.
 homoeopathy can prevent recurrent episodes of tonsillitis by improving the same.

 probably for a homoeopathic physician this is an easy ailment to treat.

Circumstances for treatment:

- if the tonsils are enlarged and cause inadequate breathing with snoring and disturbance of sleep.

- if the enlarged tonsils cause difficulty in swallowing.

- if the child has seven episodes of tonsillitis in a period of one year, five episodes in two years and three episodes every three successive years.

- if the recurrent episodes of tonsillitis cause formation of abscess on the tonsils.

What to do during an attack?

 get plenty of rest. During sleep the body tends to fight infections easily. Children should not be encouraged to go to school till the fever turns to normal.

 warm soups, broth and tea help in giving soothing sensation to the throat.

 gargling several times a day will relieve congestion and pain in the throat.

Dr. Venugopal gouri.

Consultant homeopath.
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