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Tonsillitis over the counter: 10 home treatments for relief from tonsillitis


10 home treatments for relief from tonsillitis

The term tonsillitis refers to inflammation of the tonsils. The tonsils are two oval-shaped glands that sit at the back of the throat. Their role is to fight off bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the nose and mouth.

Most cases of tonsillitis occur due to a viral infection. Bacterial infections are responsible for about 15–30% of cases.

Tonsillitis can affect anyone, but it is more common in children. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, almost all children in the United States will experience at least one episode of tonsillitis.

In this article, we outline the best home treatments and over-the-counter (OTC) medications for alleviating the symptoms of tonsillitis.

The following home remedies can help treat tonsillitis or alleviate its symptoms.

1. Drinking plenty of warm liquids

Warm liquids, such as soup, can help sooth a sore throat.

Drinking warm liquids, including soups, broths, and teas, can help soothe a sore throat.

Herbal teas containing ingredients such as honey, pectin, or glycerine may help, as these ingredients form a protective film over the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat, which might soothe irritation.

However, there is only weak evidence that herbal teas help treat the symptoms of tonsillitis.

2. Eating cold foods

Eating cold, soft foods, such as frozen yogurt or ice cream, can numb the throat, offering temporary pain relief.

People can also try the following:

  • sucking on popsicles
  • drinking chilled smoothies
  • sipping ice cold water

Other options include hard candies or chewing gums that contain mint or menthol. These ingredients provide a similar cooling and numbing sensation in the throat.

3. Avoiding hard foods

For people with tonsillitis, eating hard or sharp foods can be uncomfortable and even painful.

Hard foods may scratch the throat, leading to further irritation and inflammation. Foods to avoid include:

  • chips
  • crackers
  • dry cereal
  • toast
  • raw carrots
  • raw apples

People should try eating softer foods that are easier to swallow or stick to soups, broths, or chilled smoothies until their symptoms subside.

4. Gargling with salt water

Gargling with salt water may temporarily soothe pain or tickling in the back of the throat.

People can make a saltwater mixture by adding a quarter of a teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water and stirring the solution until the salt dissolves.

They can then gargle with the salt water for a few seconds before spitting it out. It is safe to repeat the process as often as necessary as long as the person avoids swallowing the mixture.

Gargling is not suitable for younger children as there is a risk that they will inhale the fluid and choke.

5. Increasing indoor humidity

Dry air can further irritate a sore throat. People with tonsillitis may benefit from using a cool mist humidifier. These devices release moisture back into the air, helping alleviate throat discomfort.

People should clean humidifiers daily to prevent the growth of harmful mold and bacteria.

Individuals who do not have access to a humidifier can instead try inhaling steam from a hot shower or bath.

6. Avoiding straining the voice

Swelling in the throat can cause the voice to become muffled. It may be tempting to counter this by raising the voice, but doing so risks further throat irritation.

If speaking is painful, a person should try to rest the voice as much as possible. They should also make an appointment with the doctor, as having difficulty speaking can sometimes indicate a complication.

7. Getting plenty of rest

People with tonsillitis should get as much rest as possible. Resting will allow the body to fight off the viral or bacterial infection.

Continuing to go to work or school not only increases the likelihood of a person being ill for longer, but it may also put others at risk of catching the infection.

8. Over-the-counter pain relievers

OTC analgesics can help relieve a sore throat, fever, and other painful symptoms of tonsillitis. Examples of these drugs include:

  • acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen
  • aspirin

Aspirin is not suitable for children as it can cause a life threatening illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Taking analgesics at regular intervals can help sustain pain relief throughout the day.

9. Medicated throat lozenges

Some throat lozenges contain anesthetic medications to numb and soothe the throat. Many also contain anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and inflammation.

One of the benefits of throat lozenges is that they deliver pain relief directly to the site of inflammation.

Some lozenges also contain antiseptic agents. These help target the bacteria responsible for bacterial tonsillitis.

However, lozenges are not suitable for young children as they pose a choking risk. Some also contain benzocaine, which can have adverse effects in this population. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise parents and caregivers to avoid giving products containing benzocaine to children younger than 2 years unless a doctor recommends it.

10. Throat sprays and gargles

Throat sprays and gargles are another way to deliver anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic medications directly to the throat.

People can look for throat sprays with one of the following active ingredients:

  • benzydamine
  • phenol
  • dibucaine
  • benzocaine, for older children and adults only
  • benzyl alcohol
  • cetylpyridinium chloride
  • chlorhexidine gluconate

Tonsillitis often resolves without treatment within a few days. However, some people may experience continued or worsening symptoms.

In some cases, this may indicate complications, such as an infection that has spread.

People should contact a doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • a sore throat that lasts more than 2 days
  • throat pain so severe that it is difficult to eat or drink
  • labored breathing or swallowing
  • extreme illness, weakness, or fatigue
  • fever that lasts more than 3 days or goes away for more than a day and then returns

Parents and caregivers who notice signs of tonsillitis in a child should take them to see a doctor.

Peritonsillar abscess

If a sore throat lasts longer than 2 days, a person should speak to a doctor.

People should also see a doctor if they have symptoms of a potentially serious complication of tonsillitis called a peritonsillar abscess.

A peritonsillar abscess is a collection of pus that forms near one of the tonsils. This type of abscess forms when a bacterial infection spreads from an infected tonsil to the area surrounding it.

Symptoms of a peritonsillar abscess include:

  • a severe sore throat that may be worse on one side
  • swelling inside the mouth and throat
  • difficulty speaking
  • trouble swallowing
  • breathing issues
  • difficulty opening the mouth
  • swollen lymph glands
  • fever and chills
  • an earache or neck pain on the side where the throat is sore

People who suspect that they have an abscess should make an urgent appointment with a doctor or go to the emergency room.

Without treatment, a peritonsillar abscess can lead to sepsis and severe breathing difficulties, both of which can be life threatening.

Tonsillitis is a common condition that can affect both children and adults.

Most cases of tonsillitis resolve without treatment within a few days. In the meantime, a range of home remedies and OTC treatments can help relieve bothersome symptoms.

Tonsillitis may sometimes result in more serious complications. People should see a doctor if they experience new symptoms or if their original symptoms persist or become worse.

Read the article in Spanish.

Tonsillitis home remedies for children and adults

Tonsillitis is a literal pain in the neck. Swollen and inflamed tonsils can make it hard to swallow or even breathe. And the idea of eating or drinking? It can be too much to bear.

The good news is that, in most cases, symptoms don’t last long and can be treated with home remedies. It’s also possible to enjoy food and beverages that won’t irritate sore throats and tonsils.

Below, we share how to reduce tonsil swelling and discomfort with home treatments, food and beverages – and what to do if nothing seems to work.

Tonsillitis home remedies for children and adults

If a sore throat or other tonsillitis symptoms are causing you or your little one discomfort, there are a range of tonsillitis self-care options you can try.

But if symptoms don’t get better in a few days or if they include a high fever, make a doctor’s appointment – you may need a prescription for antibiotics or another treatment such as surgery.

1. Stay home and get plenty of sleep

Getting enough sleep is a home remedy for practically every illness. There’s a reason for that – sleep boosts your immune system. And when you’re asleep, your body is better able to focus its energy on helping you get better.

There’s another reason to stay home and rest. Tonsillitis is caused by contagious viruses and bacteria. By staying home, you can stop illnesses like the cold and flu from spreading. And if you’re caring for someone with tonsillitis, make sure to wash your hands frequently and don’t share utensils, food or drinks. Getting a flu shot can help too.

2. Gargle with saltwater

If you or your child have tonsillitis, salt water can reduce swelling and discomfort. Here’s how to do it:

  • Add 1 teaspoon salt to 8 ounces of warm water.
  • Gargle for 1-2 minutes.
  • Repeat every hour.

It can be tricky for younger kids to gargle – so this method is best if they’re 8 years old or older.

3. Use a cool-mist humidifier

Dry air can irritate a sore throat. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and can make breathing more comfortable. Plus, leaving the device on at night can make it easier to sleep. There are many humidifier options, but cool-mist humidifiers tend to work best for people with tonsillitis.

If you don’t have a humidifier, try a hot shower instead – inhaling the warm steam can open up your airway so it’s easier to breathe.

4. Take over-the-counter medicines for tonsillitis

Over-the-counter medications can help with the pain, swelling and inflammation that usually accompanies tonsillitis. But not all medications are safe for people of all ages, and some medications can be dangerous when taken together. So, make sure to read all the instructions that come with the medicine and take the correct dose.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when treating tonsillitis with over-the-counter medicines:

  • Pain relievers – Acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve) can be good options to reduce inflammation or pain. You should never give aspirin to people under 20 years old.
  • Cold and flu medicines – Cold and flu viruses are common causes for tonsillitis. So, cold and flu medicines can be effective when you have tonsillitis. But it may not be safe to take both cold or flu medicine, and a separate Tylenol since too much acetaminophen can be dangerous.
  • Cough drops – Cough drops aren’t safe for little ones who are younger than 4 years old. But even if your kiddo is in elementary school, it’s best to keep an eye on them if they have a lozenge in their mouth.
  • Throat spray – Some throat sprays are appropriate for kids as young as two years old. The catch is that most kids don’t like to use throat sprays. If your child is not a fan, don’t force them. Instead, try a different treatment option.

We can help you figure out which medicines or combination of medicines are safe for you or your kiddo to take – just call the CareLine nurse line at 612-339-3663 or 800-551-0859 any time, day or night.

5. Avoid cigarette smoke

Staying away from cigarette smoke can help prevent tonsillitis, as well as help you heal faster. Cigarette smoke weakens the immune system, making it more likely that you’ll get infections – such as those that cause tonsillitis. Smoke also irritates the tonsils, making it more likely you’ll have repeat cases of tonsillitis and complications that require surgery.

Quitting smoking is a self-care tip that you can find on many lists – and the benefits go far beyond healthier tonsils. For starters, quitting helps reduce your chance of heart disease and many types of cancers. But we know it’s not easy to quit. If you’d like help, talk to your doctor.

What to eat and drink with tonsillitis

Tonsillitis throat pain can make eating so uncomfortable that it’s hard to want to eat or drink. As a parent, it can be tough when your child refuses all food and beverages. Try to offer food and beverages that soothe, rather than irritate, their throat (see below for some ideas).

It’s also a good idea to be on the lookout for signs of dehydration such as dark-colored urine, sluggishness, and sunken eyes or cheeks. If you think your child may be dehydrated, contact the CareLine nurse line at 612-339-3663 or 800-551-0859.

Below, we answer common questions about eating and drinking when you have tonsillitis.

Are warm liquids good for tonsillitis?

Yes. Warm liquids can soothe throat pain and be good sources of nutrients if you or your child find eating uncomfortable.

When you have tonsillitis, tea with honey can help with throat pain. Honey coats the throat and helps reduce irritation and inflammation. Other tasty tea additions with health benefits include lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

Soups and broths also help coat and soothe a sore throat. Bone broth is especially good because it contains protein and other nutrients your body needs to get healthy.

Not a fan of hot liquids? Go to the other temperature extreme. Some people opt for icy cold beverages for tonsillitis because they can be easier to swallow.

Are frozen foods like popsicles good for tonsillitis?

Yes, this is true. It’s not just a rumor spread by popsicle-loving children. Ice-cold foods like popsicles, ice cream, frozen yogurt and smoothies can numb the throat, reduce pain and make kids (and adults) more comfortable.

While a balanced diet is extremely important to overall health, it’s okay to break rules about no dessert before dinner when you or your kiddo are suffering through tonsillitis. Just make sure you get your eating habits back on track once everyone has recovered.

Is juice good for tonsillitis?

Most kids like juice and would happily drink it all day long. But because juice is high in sugar, pediatricians usually recommend a daily limit of a cup or less, depending on your child’s age.

Just like with popsicles, it’s okay to bend the rules if your kiddo has tonsillitis. If they don’t want to eat, drinking juice can provide an energy boost while keeping them hydrated. Plus, if the juice is super cold, it can help numb the throat and make them more comfortable.

But you’ll want to pay attention to the types of juice you offer them. Avoid acidic options like orange juice, pineapple juice and lemonade since they can irritate the throat. Apple, pear and peach juices are good alternatives because they have low acidity.

If your child is running a fever or you’re worried about dehydration, consider offering an electrolyte replacement beverage like Pedialyte or Gatorade.

Are hard foods good for tonsillitis?

No. Foods that are hard or have sharp edges can irritate the throat. So pass on chips, cereal, toast and raw veggies. Instead, opt for softer foods like tortillas, eggs, yogurt and Jell-O.

Are spicy foods good for tonsillitis?

No. Even if you taste-test hot sauce for fun, it’s a good idea to avoid spicy foods when you have tonsillitis. Foods like chilies and hot sauces can irritate infected tonsils and make them feel worse. So, it’s best to eat bland food when you have tonsillitis.

What if tonsillitis doesn’t go away with home treatments

Home remedies for tonsillitis are usually enough to help people quickly recover from tonsillitis. But there are times when additional treatment may be necessary.

Antibiotics for bacterial infections

If tonsillitis is caused by bacteria (such as the one that causes strep throat), you’ll likely need to take antibiotics for it to go away. Signs that it may be bacterial tonsillitis include a fever and a sore throat that doesn’t start to improve within a few days.

To find out if you or your child need antibiotics, make an appointment with your primary care doctor.

During the appointment, your doctor may do a physical examination to confirm that it’s tonsillitis. They’ll also do a bacteria culture test to see if the infection is viral or bacterial. If the test is positive, you’ll need antibiotics for a bacterial infection. If you test negative, your tonsillitis comes from a viral infection.

If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, it’s important to completely finish them, even if you or your child feel better.


In some cases, your doctor may recommend you talk to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist about a tonsillectomy, an outpatient surgical procedure to remove the tonsils.

The decision to remove tonsils is influenced by different factors, including symptoms, the complications you have and if tonsillitis is affecting your quality of life. Your doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy for:

  • Chronic tonsillitis that doesn’t get better with antibiotics or other treatments
  • Recurrent episodes of tonsillitis – for example, seven or more episodes in a year
  • Swollen tonsils are causing breathing problems or sleep apnea symptoms

When to call the doctor about your tonsillitis

If you or your child aren’t feeling better after three days of home treatments, it’s a good idea to make a primary care appointment.

Make an appointment if you or your child have:

  • A sore throat with a fever
  • A sore throat that lasts longer than 48 hours
  • Difficulty and painful swallowing
  • Extreme tiredness

Head to the emergency room if you or your child have:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Significant drooling because it’s hard to swallow

Infected, swollen tonsils are a pain. Our primary care doctors and ENT specialists are here to help.

ranking of the top 5 inexpensive and effective remedies according to the KP

Tonsillitis – inflammation of the palatine tonsils. Its causes can be viruses (rhinovirus, enterovirus), bacteria (group A hemolytic streptococcus), fungi (Candida genus).

The main symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat, which is aggravated by swallowing. There is also an increase in body temperature, general weakness, headache.

Effective remedies for tonsillitis come in different groups. Depending on the cause of tonsillitis, concomitant diseases, characteristics of the body, the doctor individually selects the treatment. Consider the most popular groups of drugs for the treatment of tonsillitis.

Rating of the top 5 remedies for tonsillitis according to the KP version

Local preparations with an antibacterial effect

Such preparations include sprays, lozenges, mouthwashes.

Lozenges usually have a pleasant taste, while sprays have a specific smell. At the heart of such funds there are auxiliary substances that anesthetize and envelop. This allows you to remove unpleasant symptoms immediately after use. Since viruses, bacteria and fungi can be the cause of tonsillitis, local preparations are only symptomatic therapy, the main treatment is important – antiviral, antibacterial.


  • sore throat may resolve after first use;
  • are relatively harmless.


  • may cause temporary throat and tongue numbness.

Antibacterial agent is Vertum Lor spray. This drug fights mucosal inflammation, helps reduce pain when swallowing, and also has an antifungal effect. The drug “Vertum Lor” is based on a component of benzydamine, which is used not only for angina, but also for acute respiratory infections and inflammatory diseases of the oral cavity (as symptomatic therapy), for stomatitis, gingivitis, periodontal disease, inflammation of the salivary glands, after treatment and extraction of teeth, operations and injuries in the mouth and larynx, as well as in combination therapy for candidiasis of the oral mucosa.

The composition of the spray is enriched with a combination of “classic” excipients, natural mint flavor and sweeteners, due to which the product has a pleasant fresh taste.

Vertum Lor spray is suitable for the whole family (it is used in babies from 3 years old), it can be used several times a day, and an economical pack of 235 doses will last a long time.

There are not so many contraindications: in addition to age restrictions and individual hypersensitivity, it is not recommended for use during pregnancy and lactation.

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Mint-flavored preparation helps fight pain and inflammation in tonsillitis and more

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Bacteria (group A haemolytic streptococcus) are a common cause of tonsillitis, so treatment should be based on antibacterial therapy.

The main groups of antibiotics are penicillins, cephalosporins, macrolides.

Since antibacterial drugs have a bad effect on the normal microflora, it is necessary to additionally take probiotics and eubiotics. This will avoid the development of dysbacteriosis.

For maximum effect, it is important to follow the terms of treatment and the dosage prescribed by the doctor.


  • indicated in the treatment of bacterial tonsillitis;
  • the effect of the treatment occurs in 24-48 hours.


  • it is necessary to determine the sensitivity of bacteria to antibacterial drugs;
  • additionally take drugs so that there is no thrush;
  • bacterial resistance to antibiotics may develop;
  • are taken only after consulting a doctor.


Antiseptics are used in combination for the treatment of tonsillitis.

Preparations of this group are represented by different active substances (chlorine, iodine, acids, alkalis, peroxide, alcohol) and have different mechanisms of action. Antiseptic action involves the impact on pathogenic microorganisms, which leads to their death.


  • local effect, little absorbed into the bloodstream;
  • drug activity persists for several hours.


  • there is a possibility of burns;
  • dryness of mucous membranes appears;
  • do not drink or eat immediately after use;
  • possible allergic reaction.


Antihistamines are a group of substances that block histamine receptors in the body. Histamine is a biologically active substance that regulates many physiological processes. Free histamine causes spasm of smooth muscles, lowering blood pressure, tissue swelling.

Antihistamines for tonsillitis can reduce swelling and pain.


  • active against various pathogens;
  • alleviate the condition a few minutes after taking.


  • are part of the therapy;
  • cause drowsiness.


The drugs in this group are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Feeling better after using them. Since the drugs have a serious effect on the liver and gastrointestinal tract, their intake is limited to the maximum allowable dosage. However, antipyretic drugs are considered quite safe and are sold in pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription.


  • have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects;
  • reduce body temperature.


  • does not cure the cause of the disease;
  • increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding;
  • hepatotoxicity.

How to choose tonsillitis remedies

Every pharmacy has at least a dozen tonsillitis remedies. It is important to know that the drug will be effective only when determining the cause of the disease. A swab from the throat helps to identify the pathogen. It will be great if you immediately determine the sensitivity of microorganisms to antibacterial drugs.

Even before visiting a doctor it is recommended:

  • to use antiseptic preparations – they prevent excessive growth of pathological microorganisms;
  • topical antimicrobials – to relieve sore throat;
  • antipyretic – when the temperature rises above 38 degrees;
  • antihistamines – to reduce the severity of edema.

Popular Questions and Answers

We discussed important issues related to tonsillitis from therapist Tatyana Pomerantseva .

Why does tonsillitis occur?

Tonsillitis is caused by various pathogenic microorganisms, viruses. Infection of a person occurs through close contact with an infected person, when talking, sneezing. Caries can also be the cause of tonsillitis. People with a weakened immune system are most susceptible to the disease.

Is it possible to treat tonsillitis with folk remedies?

Sore throat is a common symptom of many diseases. It is impossible to independently determine the cause of the disease. It is important to seek help from a doctor and, after laboratory and instrumental studies, begin treatment. Lack of timely correct therapy can lead to the development of serious complications.

Why is tonsillitis dangerous?

Acute tonsillitis with improper treatment can turn into chronic, which requires more serious treatment and prevention.

Since most cases of tonsillitis are caused by group A hemolytic streptococcus, complications will be associated with this bacterium. Perhaps in a few weeks or months, the appearance of diseases of the joints, heart, kidneys (rheumatism, rheumatic heart disease, glomerulonephritis).


  1. Clinical guidelines “Acute tonsillopharyngitis” 2016;
  2. Clinical guidelines “Acute and chronic tonsillitis” 2016;
  3. Register of Medicines of Russia® RLS®, 2000-2021.

Antibiotics for angina for adults and children without prescription

Publication date: 11/18/2022


The author of the article

Sumenkova Anna Mikhailovna,


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The content of the article

  • In tablets
  • 235 For children
  • Is it possible to cure a sore throat without antibiotics
  • Without prescriptions
  • Summary
  • Sources
  • Ask an expert on the topic of the article

Acute tonsillopharyngitis or tonsillitis – acute infection associated with inflammation of the mucous membrane and lymphatic structures of the oropharynx. Inflammation is localized on the tonsils and on the back of the pharynx.

Everyone at least once faced with pain when swallowing and stuffy throat. These are the main symptoms of tonsillitis (tonsillitis). According to statistics, every year general practitioners and pediatricians carry out up to 15 million consultations in connection with such a complaint.

There are main forms: catarrhal (the mildest form), lacunar (the most severe), follicular.

The most common pathogens are respiratory viruses and bacterial pathogens (group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus).

Anna Sumenkova, a pharmacist, will talk about the methods of treating tonsillitis.


Recommend antibacterial drugs for the treatment of acute tonsillitis.

Antibiotics for angina: preparations of the penicillin series. The mechanism of action of antibacterial agents is based on the bactericidal effect (destruction of the pathogen).

Drug list:

Amoxiclav, Ecoclave, Flemoklav Solutab, Augmentin .

If the patient is allergic to this active substance, the doctor prescribes cephalosporins – Suprax, Pancef, Cefixime.

Also prescribed antibiotic treatment Azithromycin, Sumamed, Clarithromycin . The drugs belong to the group of macrolides. Their mechanism of action is based on bacteriostatic action (suppression of protein synthesis of microbial cells).

All products Amoxiclav

17 reviews

All products Augmentin

20 reviews

All products Flemoklav Solutab

20 reviews

All products Ecoclave

6 reviews

How many days to take antibiotics for angina

Duration of admission is 10 days. Rapid treatment – the drug Azithromycin is taken in a course of 5 days. The course of taking and dosage of drugs is selected by the attending physician.

All products of Suprax

20 reviews

All products of Sumamed

20 reviews

All products of Pancef

20 reviews

All products of Azithromycin

21 reviews

All products of Clarithromycin

20 reviews

For children

Antibiotics for angina in children are prescribed only in case of an antibacterial infection. Recommend symptomatic drug therapy Ibuprofen and Paracetamol . To relieve pain in the throat, sprays Hexoral, Hexaspray, Tantum Verde are prescribed. Preparations can be used from 3 years.

Is it possible to cure a sore throat without antibiotics

If the disease is caused by viral or fungal pathogens, it makes no sense to treat a sore throat with antibiotics.

A wide range of products for the symptomatic treatment of angina is currently on the market: medicines for rinsing, inhalation, lozenges, sprays for sore throats.

Without a prescription

You can buy medicines without a prescription from a pharmacy to relieve the unpleasant symptoms of a sore throat. Sprays, solutions and tablets for sore throats, antipyretics and painkillers.

It is important to remember that only a doctor can prescribe an antibiotic.


  • Acute tonsillopharyngitis or tonsillitis is an acute infection associated with inflammation of the mucous membrane and lymphatic structures of the oropharynx.