how to fight off tonsillitis

Coping with tonsillitis, or trying to

It’s not nice getting repeat illnesses time after time. Tonsillitis can be minor, or it can be never ending. In 2020, it really wasn’t N’s year, and all through that year of lockdown and restrictions he suffered a lot with tonsillitis.

With Covid, it meant operations just weren’t happening unless you were having sleep issues. He just had to wait it out – getting it every few weeks, and having a lot of time he was unable to do school work. Remote learning didn’t help, as it was wiping him out for days at a time.

This year, and a third consultant appointment, it was still wait it out. Antibiotics aren’t really an option anymore. He can’t have the stronger one regularly because it can damage your stomach. But even normal less strong penicillin is now causing his tummy to be a bit upset. I’m not sure how much was anxiety about it, and how much was a real issue, but now we’ve had to try other things to fight off the tonsillitis before it gets too bad.

how to fight off tonsillitis

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The consultant had mentioned trying echinacea. I’ve never taken it before, and neither had N but it was worth a try.

Since that appointment, we’ve been on watch out. Trying to catch his tonsillitis early. If we can keep it a milder case, or a shorter case, it’s a bonus, until we can hopefully get him a tonsillectomy. Or he gets fewer cases, won’t be able to get the operation, but he potentially grows out of it.

The problem is that you need to have had enough episodes of tonsillitis, be missing a lot of school (or have other problems like sleeping issues) to have the operation. Since he’s started taking echinacea (although he’ll only take it when he’s feeling a bit off), it’s meant fewer episodes. I don’t think having it 6 times a year would be enough, unless they count 2 years of it. And the days off sick from school.

And it’s not just school he misses out on. It’s tennis – he misses team matches, letting down the team and his friends if he has to pull out last minute. He could end up with withdrawal penalties if he has to pull out of tournaments too close to the date.  It’s parties, play dates, weekends. In year 5, from February to March, he’d had 6 ½ days off school. That was more than the whole of year 3-4 (up to Covid lockdown 1).

This year, we’ve been coping with tonsillitis, and trying to avoid the antibiotics. Here’s our tips on what’s been working for N…as long as we can get it early enough.

Coping with tonsillitis without antibiotics


It was hard to find children’s echinacea*. It’s not available in many places in the UK – online during lockdown, I had to buy it from the US. Ridiculously it still worked out cheaper buying 2 lots from there, than in the UK.

The recommendation from the doctor was to take it through the year. But N really hates it. So he has it when he can feel a sore throat coming, or when his tonsils first feel swollen. It helps with the immune system and helps build a defence.  He has a few drops once a day in squash. He’s tried it in orange juice, but I think he tastes it less if it’s put into the squash then the water gets put in. The swoosh of the tap water makes it disperse and less noticeable in taste.

Personally I don’t find it too bad in water – I just ‘block’ out the taste or smell. If he knows it’s helping, he’ll take it for a few days.

Difflam spray

Several squirts a few times a day, and it helps ease a sore throat which is definitely needed when it’s inflamed.

I prefer a chloroseptic throat spray that numbs the throat for myself, but the difflam spray is better because it’s an analgesic and is inflammatory too. It doesn’t reduce the size of the tonsils, but does ease the pain.

Smooth foods

Foodwise, N does go off eating. It’s harder to eat and swallow with swollen tonsils.  But there’s one food that he does request – tomato soup – usually for lunch.  Luckily I can make it with storecupboard ingredients. Find my recipe below.

Otherwise, it’s homemade milkshakes or smoothies, trying to get him to drink orange juice, or ice lollies are good too.

tomato soup

Hopefully N’s now growing out of tonsillitis, or that we can keep warding it off by catching it early. Or at least until we can get a tonsillectomy.

What do your children like to eat when ill?

Tomato soup

A simple tomato soup recipe

Course Soup
Keyword soup, starter
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Author Emma


  • 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 shallot or 1/4 of a red onion peeled, and diced
  • pinch sugar
  • Basil to taste
  • Black pepper to season
  • Double cream optional


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, add a little oil, then the diced onion. Stir occasionally, and cook until the onion is cooked through.

  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of sugar, Bring up the heat until bubbling,

  3. Lower the heat to a simmer, then cook covered, until well cooked through, This should take around 10 minutes

  4. Sprinkle in basil to taste (I usually put in about ¼ tsp as N isn’t too much of a fan, and a twist of ground black pepper. Stir through.

  5. Add a swirl of double cream if using. You can reheat if it needs warming through more. Then serve with a basil leaf, drizzle of cream.

Recipe Notes

If you’re not having soup because you’ve a sore throat, then serve with crusty bread or croutons.

You can keep remains in a reusable container in the fridge for a couple ofday. Just reheat on the hob in a pan, or in the microwave in a microwave friendly jug.

Like this post, try these other tips for nearby days out.

blackberry ice cream
coping with tonsillitis
recipes to use milk
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  1. I had tonsillitis when I was in University, and it was awful! I thought it was just a bad sore throat- but I could barely eat anything. My sister had it about three times when she was a lot younger, so these tips are super helpful for parents who want to help their children ward it off- or people like me who want to avoid it a second time! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment. It can be so nasty. Fingers crossed you stay clear. We’re definitely finding he’s getting less episodes now, and can hold it off at the first sign most of the time now. Here’s hoping because we still haven’t heard from the consultant about our Sept appointment that was due. Must ring them, and check in really!

  2. Hope N is all better now. Great advice about smooth foods and very interesting information about alternatives to antibiotic treatments. Thank you so much.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Tonsillitis is never fun for the person suffering. We’re always stocking up on Difflam spray!

  3. Oh poor N! Tonsillitis is awful. Large boy had it every few months when he was small, nursery would phone, he’d have an awful temp and the Dr would take one look in his mouth and tell me the Tonsils met in the middle. He luckily grew out of it and just stopped when he was 3.5. But when he was almost 6 he missed the first 3 days of y1 in hospital with strep throat after GP said he didn’t have Tonsillitis 2 days before. I completely sympathise and I’ll remember your remedies if he gets it again.

    1. It’s horrible. Usually they grow out of it by N’s age. I was lucky in that back in the day when they whipped them out, mine were gone at age 5. Funny that I, and the OH both has tonsillitis lots, and now N has too. OH hasn’t had it for 2 years now which is a relief.

  4. Poor N. He really has had it tough with tonsillitis. I remember having it a handful of times when I was a kid, I was ill on Christmas day one year with it. Ugh. I think that was the last time I had it, it just stopped.
    I hope he isn’t suffering much more with it. x

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