I know many of my regular readers already know this story…so feel free to skip it. Im posting for people who may google “recurrent tonsillitis” and need to know my story…because there is not much out there that works for this beyond a tonsillectomy, and it is important for people to know there are other, less intrusive, things to try.
I will start this by saying I have never believed in certain foods really changing how healthy you are. Of course I have a general belief that healthy eating is healthier, and I know about allergies. But I never believed that ingesting relatively healthy foods that one does not seem to have an an allergy to could impact ones health much. Hence my resistance to ever seeing a naturopath (who would surely tell me not to eat lots of things I love).
I started to get tonsillitis regularly in university, a couple times a year. Not enough to be a big issue…but enough to notice.
In my 30s, it got worse. Bad enough for me to see an ENT in 2008 and consider a tonsillectomy. I was, at this time, getting it every 2-3 months (4-6 times a year), and it was not responding to several antibiotics anymore. That ENT was not very concerned and suggested gargling hydrogen peroxide daily. I tried it, and it did help. By the time I was pregnant with Charlotte, I was getting it 2-3 times a year. That said, I pretty well always had a sore throat from the gargling. Also, if I ran out, the infection came back within a day or two.
When Charlotte (now 4) was a baby, I went off dairy due to an intolerance she had. Eventually, I noticed my tonsillitis was gone. I went about 8-9 months without it, or the peroxide. As soon as she could tolerate (and I could eat) dairy again…I started getting tonsillitis regularly again. I know I should have stayed off the dairy, but I just wasn’t sufficiently motivated to. I think a big reason was that I had gained a lot of weight off dairy and in my head felt like I could not lose weight off dairy. I know that is likely not true…but it was how it felt. Also, at that time it was still responding well to antibiotics. If I got in them the first day I was sick, I often didn’t even get sick enough to miss work. The hydrogen peroxide still helped too. So, I was back I dairy and managing my tonsils as best I could with antibiotics and hydrogen peroxide.
Eventually, my tonsil infections got more frequent and more resistant to antibiotics. I always needed two rounds to knock it out (often for only a month or so) and was told that eventually I might need iv antibiotics for it. In spring of 2011, I was out of work for about 4 weeks when (while on my second round of antibiotics) I got a cold during a bout with tonsillitis, which didn’t drain properly and went to my ears, leading to an excruciating ear infection and ruptured ear drum. It was the sickest I’d ever been in my life (which I guess is lucky since there are many worse things…but it was still brutal). I went back to an ENT to once again look into a tonsillectomy (which I was TERRIFIED of) and again was turned down. I needed to get documented (with swabs) tonsillitis 5 or more times a year, which wasn’t happening for a couple of reasons; the hydrogen peroxide got it down to a bit less than that, and I often went to clinics they took one look at my pus coveted tonsils and refused to do a swab since I clearly needed antibiotics. To have the surgery, if have to allow myself to get the infection as often as possible (which, without peroxide, would have been almost always) and go to my (part time, busy-and getting on antibiotics as the first sign of infection was key to me not getting really sick) doctor to get a proper record for at least a year. Not happening. I didn’t have time for that and was terrified of the surgery anyways. I played around with going dairy free again…but nixed it. I was in good shape and scared going off dairy would make me gain weight, and also as someone who rarely eats meat but was (finally) quite athletic…I felt I needed the protein I got from dairy. So I went back to my peroxide gargling existence.
Then, in March 2012, I did a one month grain free challenge. I was still on antibiotics for a recent infection when I started, and it was a challenge that had nothing to do with my tonsils. I was just curious if I’d lose weight. I did…just 5lbs…but more importantly I realized I ate loads more fruit, veggies and protein when I was not always reaching for simple carbs…so I kept it up. Eventually I added rice and oats back in…rice so I could eat sushi and oats because they are healthy and filling…but I never went back to eating wheat. About 6 months in, I realized I’d ran out of peroxide a long time ago…and the last time I’d gotten tonsillitis had been March!!! Hmm???
In April, a year after I went off wheat and a year after I’d had tonsillitis, Passover came and I decided to eat some matzah. Not a tonne, but a few pieces a day. By day 4…I had tonsillitis. I stopped eating wheat again…and my tonsils have once again been clear ever since (4 more months). Occasionally I’ll have a bite of pizza crust or something, and when I do my throat is always itchy the next morning (though a day of gargling-I now use diluted apple cider vinegar instead of peroxide) clears it up as long as I don’t do it again. Eventually I have realized other sources of gluten (soy sauce, veggie dogs) have the same effect. Luckily, trace gluten does not seem to, so I can eat out, pull the cheese off pizza, eat the inside of a wrap or sandwich, etc…without issue
I am now a believer that dairy and /or gluten were responsible for my recurrent tonsillitis. Living without wheat is easy (way easier than living without dairy was…I’m glad I don’t have to do both) and I am so happy to not be sick and on antibiotics and gargling a corrosive all the time. Also thrilled to no longer be chasing a surgery I didn’t even want. They are my tonsils and I’ll keep them thank you very much.
So, I would strongly recommend, if googling “recurrent tonsillitis” got you hear, to try tweaking your diet. Try going off dairy or gluten (I’d try one at a time, why be off both of you don’t have to? Try whichever one you think you can live without more easily and healthily first…if they doesn’t work then try both) for a few months. It can’t hurt…and just might help!
It’s too late to add links…maybe in the morning…but the health category has plenty of posts documenting my history of tonsillitis…and recent lack of it!!!