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Q. How does salt water gargling cure tonsillitis? How Vaporizer and Medicated Inhalant helps?

Answered by
Dr. Shyam Kalyan N
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 13, 2017 and last reviewed on: Nov 02, 2019

Hi doctor,

Does air humidifier help with tonsillitis? How would salt water gargling cure tonsillitis?

Dr. Shyam Kalyan N

Allergy Specialist Otolaryngology (E.N.T)
#

Hi,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

Air humidifiers are of various types and not all of them are useful for someone suffering from tonsillitis. And also, tonsillitis requires gargling of warm water mixed with salt. Salt water gargling helps reduce pain, inflammation and infection in the throat by the following ways.

  • Gargling sets a whirlpool inside the throat and it removes any phlegm that is sticking to the crevices inside the mouth or throat. When tonsils are enlarged, pus and phlegm may get stuck between the tonsils and the pillars and may not come out when you spit normally. Gargling will flush the area, loosen any bit that is lingering there and thus helps remove the same.
  • Salt promotes osmosis. It is helpful in 2 ways. First, it removes water from any bacteria or microbe that is present in the tonsil, causes it to shrink and thus die. Second, salt helps remove edema and inflammation by sucking in the water/ fluid from the swollen tissues. Due to infection, local inflammation sets in which releases lot of chemicals which cause edema and swelling.
  • Salt prevents infection. Salty environment is a deterrent to bacteria. If you want to preserve mangoes, you put lot of salt in it and make a pickle right! Similarly, salt water gargling creates a salty atmosphere in the throat temporarily and prevents growth of bacteria.
  • Salt restores the pH of throat which would have been distorted due to the inflammation. Restoration of normal pH helps increase blood circulation and remove acidity and mucosal irritation. Increased blood circulation helps supply infection fighting cells faster to the site. This helps healing faster.
  • Caution:- Excess concentration of salt in the water will dry up the mucosa of throat and further the infection. Drying effect is bad. Hence we must use only appropriate amounts of salt, which is 2 teaspoons of table salt for 200 mL water.
  • Humid air is important to keep the mucous membranes moist and functional. When the mucus membrane gets dried then normal physiological function gets hampered. Ciliary beating gets hampered and this can lead to infection. Hence the air we inhale has to contain adequate moisture.

Use Vaporizer or Medicated Inhalant

When we suffer from rhinitis/ sinusitis/ pharyngitis, and when we perform steam inhalation it soothes the inflammed areas and gives comfort. It helps in healing and cure from the disease. A vaporizer (steam humidifier, warm mist humidifier) heats or boils water, releasing steam and moisture into the air. A medicated inhalant can also be added to the vapor to help reduce coughs.

Vaporizers are more healthy than cool mist humidifiers because steam is less likely to convey mineral impurities or microorganisms from the standing water. Steam is more healthy than cool mist when one suffers from above mentioned conditions.

Revert back to an ENT otolaryngologist online for further follow up --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/ENT-Otolaryngologist


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