16 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of a Swollen Tonsil

A swollen tonsil, also known as tonsillitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation and enlargement of the tonsils. The tonsils are two small masses of tissue located at the back of the throat. They play a role in the immune system by helping to fight off infections. A swollen tonsil can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

While bacterial tonsillitis may require treatment with antibiotics, many cases can be managed at home using natural remedies. In this article, we’ll explore 16 effective natural remedies for tonsillitis.

Natural Remedies to Get Rid of a Swollen Tonsil
Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Swollen Tonsil

Common Causes of Swollen Tonsil

Several factors can lead to swollen tonsils. Here are some common causes:

  • Infections: Bacterial or viral infections are the most common causes of swollen tonsils. Streptococcus pyogenes is a common culprit. Viruses like the Epstein-Barr virus or the common cold virus can also cause tonsillitis.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions to substances like pollen, dust mites, or pet dander can cause inflammation in the tonsils. This will lead to swelling.
  • Chronic tonsillitis: Recurrent or persistent inflammation of the tonsils can lead to chronic tonsillitis. This causes them to remain swollen for extended periods.
  • Tonsil stones: Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, are small, calcified deposits that form in the tonsils’ crevices. These stones can irritate and result in swollen tonsils.
  • Smoking or exposure to irritants: Smoking or exposure to irritants like air pollution or chemicals can irritate the tonsils and cause them to become swollen.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Acid reflux or GERD can lead to throat irritation, including inflammation of the tonsils.
  • Immune system disorders: Conditions that affect the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS or autoimmune disorders, can increase the risk of swollen tonsils.
  • Injury or trauma: Physical injury or trauma to the tonsils can cause inflammation and swelling.
  • Dental infections: Infections in the teeth or gums, such as tooth abscesses or periodontitis, can spread to the tonsils and cause them to become swollen.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to dry air, low humidity, or extreme temperatures can contribute to tonsil inflammation.
  • Stress and fatigue: Prolonged periods of stress or inadequate rest can weaken the immune system. This makes the tonsils more susceptible to infections and inflammation.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Neglecting proper oral hygiene, such as not brushing or flossing regularly, can lead to bacterial buildup and infections.
  • Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing swollen tonsils or recurrent tonsillitis.

16 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Swollen Tonsil

1. Saltwater Gargle

Gargling with warm salt water is one of the oldest and most effective natural remedies for tonsillitis. Salt helps draw excess fluid out of the tissues in the throat, reducing inflammation and pain.

To make a saltwater gargle, simply dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Gargle the mixture for 10-15 seconds, then spit it out. Repeat this process 2-3 times a day, especially after meals and before bed.

It’s important to use warm water, as hot water can further irritate the throat. Also, avoid swallowing the salt water, as it can cause an upset stomach. This remedy is not recommended for young children who may accidentally swallow the liquid.

Drink Water
Drink Water

2. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Staying hydrated is crucial when you’re dealing with a sore throat or tonsillitis. Drinking plenty of fluids helps thin mucus secretions. This makes them easier to clear from the throat. It also keeps the throat moist and lubricated, reducing irritation and discomfort.

You should try to drink at least 8-10 cups of fluids per day, including water, herbal tea, broth, and ice pops. Warm liquids like tea with honey and chicken soup can be especially soothing to a sore throat.

However, it’s best to avoid very hot liquids, as they can further irritate the throat. Let hot tea or soup cool slightly before sipping slowly.

3. Enjoy Cold Foods

While warm liquids can be comforting, cold foods can also provide relief by temporarily numbing the throat and reducing inflammation. Sucking on ice chips, and popsicles, or enjoying cold treats like frozen yogurt and smoothies can help soothe swollen tonsils.

This remedy is particularly helpful for young children who may not be able to gargle or take certain medications. Just be sure to avoid giving them anything too hard or chunky that could pose a choking hazard.

You can also make your own soothing popsicles at home. You can blend fresh fruit with yogurt or coconut water and freeze the mixture in popsicle molds. Add a drizzle of honey for extra antibacterial power and sweetness.


4. Use a Humidifier

Dry air can irritate a sore throat and worsen tonsillitis symptoms, especially at night when mouth breathing is more common. Using a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom can help soothe swollen tonsils and make breathing more comfortable.

If you don’t have a humidifier, you can create a similar effect by sitting in a steamy bathroom. You can also lean over a bowl of hot water with a towel draped over your head to breathe in the humid air. Just be careful not to make the water so hot that the steam could scald your face or throat.

5. Get Plenty of Rest

When you’re fighting off an infection like tonsillitis, getting plenty of rest is essential. Your body needs energy to heal and recover. So it’s important to take a break from your normal activities and give yourself a chance to rest.

If possible, take a few days off from work or school and spend extra time sleeping and relaxing. Aim for at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night, and take short naps during the day if you feel tired.

6. Take Over-the-Counter Medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be very effective at reducing inflammation and relieving the pain of swollen tonsils. They can also help reduce fever, which is a common symptom of tonsillitis.

When taking over-the-counter medications, be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the label carefully. Do not exceed the recommended dose.

It’s important to note that aspirin should not be given to children or teenagers. Because it has been linked to a rare but serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.

7. Suck on Lozenges

Medicated lozenges and throat sprays can provide quick relief for sore, swollen tonsils. Many contain numbing ingredients like benzocaine or menthol that help reduce pain and irritation.

Some lozenges also contain natural ingredients like honey, lemon, or eucalyptus oil that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These can help fight off infection and soothe inflamed throat tissues.

When using lozenges or throat sprays, be sure to follow the package instructions carefully. Overuse can lead to numbness or irritation in the throat. Also, use caution when giving lozenges to young children, as they may pose a choking risk.

Health Benefits of Red Rooibos Tea
Health Benefits of Red Rooibos Tea

8. Try Herbal Teas

Herbal teas like chamomile, licorice root, slippery elm, and marshmallow root contain mucilage. This is a gel-like substance that coats and soothes the throat. Drinking these teas regularly can help relieve the pain and irritation of swollen tonsils.

Ginger tea is another good option, as it has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help fight off infection. You can make your ginger tea by steeping fresh ginger slices in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Add a tablespoon of honey for extra antibacterial power and to improve the taste.

When drinking herbal teas, be sure to let them cool slightly before sipping to avoid scalding your already sensitive throat. You can also try gargling with the cooled tea for added relief.

9. Gargle With Baking Soda

Gargling with a baking soda solution is another simple and effective home remedy for tonsillitis. Baking soda helps neutralize acids in the throat that can cause further irritation and discomfort.

To make a baking soda gargle, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 8 ounces of warm water until fully dissolved. Gargle with the mixture for 15-20 seconds, then spit it out. Repeat this process several times a day, especially after meals.

Like saltwater gargles, baking soda gargles are not recommended for young children who may accidentally swallow the liquid. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before using this remedy.

10. Eat Soft, Bland Foods

When your tonsils are swollen and inflamed, eating can be painful and difficult. To minimize discomfort, stick to soft, easy-to-swallow foods that won’t irritate your throat further.

Good options include smoothies made with frozen fruit and yogurt, pureed soups, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and soft-cooked vegetables. You can also try cold foods like ice cream, pudding, and applesauce. This can help numb the throat and reduce inflammation.

Try to avoid hard, crunchy, or spicy foods that can scratch or burn your already sensitive throat. Acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes can also be irritating for some people.

11. Apply a Warm Compress

Applying heat to the outside of the throat can help soothe pain and reduce inflammation in the tonsils. To make a warm compress, soak a clean cloth in hot water, and wring out the excess moisture. Hold it against your neck for 5-10 minutes at a time. Repeat this process several times a day, or as needed for relief.

You can also use a heating pad set on low or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. Be sure to place a layer of fabric between the heat source and your skin to prevent burns. Never apply heat for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.

If you find that heat makes your symptoms worse or causes discomfort, try using a cold compress instead. Wrap a bag of ice or frozen vegetables in a towel and hold it against your neck for 10-15 minutes at a time. This can help numb pain and reduce swelling.

Apple Cider Vinegar Products and Varieties
Apple Cider Vinegar Products and Varieties

12. Gargle With Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help fight off throat infections and reduce swelling in the tonsils. It also helps break up mucus and provides pain relief.

To use ACV as a gargle, mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered ACV with 1 cup of warm water. Gargle with the mixture for 15-20 seconds, then spit it out. Repeat this process 2-3 times a day.

If the taste of ACV is too strong or tart for you, try adding a tablespoon of honey to the mixture. Honey has antibacterial properties and can help soothe a sore throat.

13. Take Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function and helps your body fight off infections. When you’re dealing with tonsillitis or another throat infection, increasing your intake of vitamin C can help speed up the healing process.

Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, kiwi, papaya, strawberries, and bell peppers. You can also take a vitamin C supplement to boost your intake quickly. Studies show that taking up to 1000 mg of vitamin C per day may slightly reduce the sore throat.

14. Try Sage and Echinacea

Sage and echinacea are two herbs that have been traditionally used to treat sore throats and tonsillitis. Both have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can help fight off infection and reduce swelling.

You can find sage and echinacea in prepared teas, sprays, lozenges, and tinctures at many health food stores. To use sage as a gargle, steep 1 tablespoon of dried sage leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Strain the mixture and let it cool slightly before gargling.

Echinacea can be taken as a supplement or brewed into a tea. Follow the dosage instructions on the product label, or ask your healthcare provider for guidance.

15. Limit Talking and Singing

When your tonsils are swollen and inflamed, it’s important to give your voice a rest as much as possible. Talking, singing, and yelling can strain the vocal cords and throat muscles, leading to further irritation and discomfort. If you need to speak, try to do so softly and avoid talking for long periods.

Sip on warm liquids or suck on ice chips to keep your throat moist and lubricated. If you experience persistent hoarseness or difficulty speaking, see a doctor. This could indicate a more serious complication.

16. Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes can irritate the throat and tonsils, leading to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of infection. The hot smoke and chemicals in cigarettes can damage the delicate tissues in the throat. This makes them more susceptible to irritation and illness. If you currently smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your tonsil health and overall well-being.

When to See a Doctor?

While many cases of tonsillitis can be managed at home using natural remedies, there are times when it’s important to seek medical attention. See a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing or swelling in the neck
  • High fever (over 101°F) that lasts more than a few days
  • White patches or pus on the tonsils
  • Persistent hoarseness or changes in voice
  • Recurrent episodes of tonsillitis

Your doctor can perform a physical exam and may take a throat swab to test for strep throat or other bacterial infections. If necessary, they may prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection and prevent complications.

In rare cases, chronic or recurrent tonsillitis may require surgical removal of the tonsils. This is typically only recommended if other treatments have been unsuccessful and the infections are severely impacting quality of life.