Tonsillitis in Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
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Not many know about this but tonsillitis in pregnancy is a high-risk condition that could lead to unpredictable complications, if not detected and treated promptly. Pregnancy warrants extra care of your health because any health issue during this time can lead to severe complications. The hormonal changes during pregnancy may give you glowing skin or thicker hair, but they may also cause several problems such as tonsillitis. Tonsillitis is a contagious medical condition in which the tonsils get inflamed due to an infection. The manifestation of tonsillitis during pregnancy is a serious concern as it holds a possible threat to you as well as your baby. Before you ask yourself, ‘Can this happen to me?’, let us suggest you give this article a read.
What Is Tonsillitis?
Tonsils are lymphatic tissues situated in the human throat. They are situated at the back of the throat. Tonsils act as the body’s primary line of defence, protecting it against various infections. But at times, tonsils can fall prey to a viral or bacterial infection which causes them to become enlarged. This inflammation of the tonsils is called tonsillitis.
Tonsillitis can be acute (cured within a few weeks) or chronic (persists for more than a few weeks). Both these conditions with their accompanying symptoms like fever, throat pain, and malaise can not only add to the overall discomfort during pregnancy. Thus, it is best to treat tonsillitis in time.
What Are the Causes of Tonsillitis?
Some of the causes of tonsillitis are mentioned below:
- Poor immune system
- A sore throat left untreated
- Continued hypothermia
- Inflammation of adenoids or polyps
- Severe tooth decay
- Poor diet
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
The common symptoms of tonsillitis include the following:
- A sore throat
- Pain upon swallowing due to swollen tonsils
- General fatigue or malaise
- A dry cough
- Headaches and muscle ache
- Lymph node consolidation
- Bad breath
- Difficulty in swallowing
Can Tonsillitis Be Dangerous for a Pregnant Woman?
Tonsillitis can be harmful to the well-being of a pregnant woman because it indicates a weak immune system. If you have tonsillitis during pregnancy, chances are that you will also be vulnerable to other infections which can cause many pregnancy complications including a miscarriage. Once the infection enters your body, it may travel to the foetus, jeopardising its existence. Intrauterine infection, premature birth, and weak labour activity are some common problems that arise because of tonsillitis in the second trimester of pregnancy. Tonsillitis may also be responsible for triggering late toxicosis during pregnancy.
In order to treat bacterial tonsillitis, a course of antibiotics is required, which may pose additional health risks such as acute diarrhoea, which might result in dehydration, gastric distress along with enhanced nausea, heartburn, vomiting and so on. Moreover, the consumption of antibiotics when pregnant can also lead to developmental disorders in the foetus.
In case tonsillitis progresses to the chronic stage, it may further affect your immune system and expose you to external pathogens that may attack the vital organs of the body. Pregnant women with chronic tonsillitis usually have a caesarean section.
And in the case of strep tonsillitis (caused by streptococcal bacteria) during pregnancy, immediate treatment will be required as strep tonsillitis can lead to fatal conditions like a rheumatic fever (which affects the heart valves) and glomerulonephritis (which harms the kidneys).
Treatment for Tonsillitis During Pregnancy
It is commonly advised to treat tonsillitis before pregnancy, if possible, as the usage of drugs during pregnancy is not desirable. The treatment for tonsillitis during pregnancy may rest on the cause. In case, the tonsillitis is caused by a virus, no medication is required. However, in case, the cause of tonsillitis is a bacterial infection, you may be required to take antibiotics. Your doctor upon examination and determination of your condition may prescribe certain safe analgesic and anti-inflammatory medicines to cure the symptoms of tonsillitis.
Treatments That Are Safe During Pregnancy
Pregnant women are usually suggested to following remedies for tonsillitis:
- Using an antiseptic to cleanse the tonsils.
- Washing the tonsils with herbal infusions.
- Applying disinfecting solutions on the tonsils.
- Using anti-inflammatory sprays.
- Using biologically active additives (BBA) to strengthen the immune system and speed up the healing process.
Treatments That Pregnant Women Should Avoid
Some treatments that are not advisable to pregnant women include –
- Taking medicines along with antihistamine drugs.
- Use of antibiotics except if there is a probable threat to the growing foetus from streptococcus bacteria tonsillitis in the third trimester of your pregnancy.
Home Remedies for Tonsillitis While Pregnant
Here are some home remedies that may help cure your tonsillitis during pregnancy:
- Gargling regularly with warm salt water may speed up the healing process as salt has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Drinking lemon tea with a dash of honey every day can prove beneficial as lemon contains vitamin C which may boost immunity. Honey possesses antimicrobial properties, which can help soothe the throat.
- Having ginger tea can also provide relief from tonsillitis during pregnancy. You may add a pinch of turmeric to the ginger tea as turmeric is a natural analgesic and has antimicrobial properties. You can also mix some honey to enhance the flavour of the tea.
How to Prevent Tonsillitis During Pregnancy?
In order to prevent tonsillitis during pregnancy or otherwise, the first thing you should do is drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. Drinking enough water and other fluids will lower the risk of infections. Apart from drinking water, you should also maintain proper hygiene. Make sure you have a healthy diet which comprises of green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, healthy beverages, proteins – it will improve your immune strength. Drinking vegetable soups of carrot, cucumber, beet may aid in fighting the infection naturally. Refrain from eating fried, oily, starchy, and spicy foods as they may worsen your condition. Also, avoid colourful foods and foods with essence in them. Wash your hands to prevent the virus and bacteria from spreading and avoid contact with people who have a strep throat. Prevention is always better than cure, so take necessary measures and stay safe during pregnancy.
Many pregnant women consider herbal decoction or tincture to treat tonsillitis. However, self-medication, especially during pregnancy, should be avoided otherwise it may result in unnecessary pregnancy complications for both the mother and the baby.
1. Note in the treatment of tonsillitis in pregnant women; VINMEC; https://www.vinmec.com/en/news/health-news/note-in-the-treatment-of-tonsillitis-in-pregnant-women/
2. Tonsillitis; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tonsillitis/
3. Soothing Solutions for Pregnant Women with Sore Throats: Expert Tips and Remedies; TSMP; https://www.tsmp.com.au/blog/pregnant-and-dealing-with-a-sore-throat-tips-for-relief.html; May 2023