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Chronic Tonsillitis
« on: March 11, 2014, 02:05:38 pm »
Before moving to Korea I rarely ever got significantly sick. I had bronchitis about two months before I moved here and I've had strep throat two or three times in my life but since December I've had tonsillitis three times and I'm pretty sure I'm cooking up a fourth batch as we speak. There are definitely worse illnesses but when it peaks I'm basically totally out of commission for a day or two and I'm getting sick (har har) of it. In one way it was pretty lucky I started getting it when I did since only the last time required me to actually use sick days but that was less than a month ago. I was also late for the first time today and I don't want to start this semester looking totally unreliable and mess with my re-signing.

Does anyone else deal with this problem and know what contributes to it? Several of my friends have had tonsillitis at least once since coming and a few have it approaching chronic levels like me. Apparently 7 times in one year is the AMA's definition of chronic, at which point they can recommend tonsillectomies but if there's anything I can do before that point I'd like to take less extreme measures first.

For the record I don't smoke. Don't have a history of throat infections. I'm not really wandering around in the cold underdressed (I'm in Busan so it's not really that cold anyway). I can't really find any obvious immediate reason I keep getting the same illness over and over other than maybe contracting it from my students.


  • mikeD
  • Super Waygook

    • 417

    • March 31, 2013, 07:46:49 pm
    • Geoje, South Korea
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2014, 02:33:15 pm »
More soju and jimjilbang should help you. That stuff is like magic for my health.


  • oregon
  • Adventurer

    • 28

    • September 12, 2013, 11:40:29 am
    • South Korea
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2014, 02:41:24 pm »
I started getting tonsil stones a few years ago (for no reason I can figure out) and then contracted tonsillitis a couple times when I started teaching kids the worst time being here. I know kids contract tonsillitis much easier than adults (even though I never got it as a kid).What I've read the more tonsil stones you get and the more times you get tonsillitis the easier it is to get again. This happens because your tonsils get pitted (the holes get larger). The best thing I've found to combat this stuff is to irrigate your sinus with saline/salt water and neti pot or syringe and to blast your tonsils with the syringe too. You can get the syringe I'm talking about at a pharmacy for 500 won.


  • jbrookin
  • Adventurer

    • 59

    • March 14, 2011, 01:47:25 pm
    • south korea
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2014, 02:45:34 pm »
1. New environment, new germs.
2. Crappy air/pollution galore.
3. More contact with people? (I take public transportation vs my own car in the States.)
4. Kids are gross.  Like, seriously gross. 

My first year here I was sick for the first 3 months straight.  Then I was fine for the rest of my time.

Second year here I moved to a new area and boom.  Sick for almost a year (my apartment also had mold issues) with a constant sore and swollen throat.  This is my third year (2nd in same area) and I am once again fine, unless it's a particularly crappy day pollution wise.

It'll eventually stop! Or, it will once you move away (and once again deal with the 'new germs' thing in your new area)! :) 


  • zminus2
  • Adventurer

    • 53

    • February 21, 2013, 12:29:35 pm
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2014, 02:49:55 pm »
You are working in close proximity with a bunch of little germ factories. The kids here (and seems like most adults) don't know how to cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing, think that soap is "dirty," don't seem to have hot water available to them ... and plus, you're in another region of the world without the same immunities. A region of the world that has a higher population density than what you're probably accustomed to. More people = more germs. Gonna get sick. And chronically so.

Try to eat healthy, get exercise, etc etc and do what you can to keep your immune system happy.

Getting sick in the beginning of the year does suck with regards to being reliable and setting the tone right, but once you're over this current illness, bring out your A game and I'm sure they'll get over it. Use the waygook card - "oh it's so cold in Korea, I keep getting sick! boo hoo poor waygook cough cough cough" that might work. Getting a doctor's note each day you're sick might also help.

Sorry that I have no actual useful advice, but I commiserate. Rocking a cold with tonsillitis right now.


  • zminus2
  • Adventurer

    • 53

    • February 21, 2013, 12:29:35 pm
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2014, 02:53:25 pm »
I started getting tonsil stones a few years ago (for no reason I can figure out) and then contracted tonsillitis a couple times when I started teaching kids the worst time being here. I know kids contract tonsillitis much easier than adults (even though I never got it as a kid).What I've read the more tonsil stones you get and the more times you get tonsillitis the easier it is to get again. This happens because your tonsils get pitted (the holes get larger). The best thing I've found to combat this stuff is to irrigate your sinus with saline/salt water and neti pot or syringe and to blast your tonsils with the syringe too. You can get the syringe I'm talking about at a pharmacy for 500 won.

^ this is good info, thanks. I have one permanently enlarged tonsil since I was a teenager. Really irritating. Maybe I should just get the suckers removed once and for all.


Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2014, 02:59:11 pm »
Thanks for the responses. I did some research into tonsillitis before posting so I wasn't expecting a miracle cure. It relieves me to know lots of people get better basically after winter rolls past. I'm used to it being way colder but maybe the sea breeze is cutting me in a way I'm used to. Too bad swimming is the only physical exercise I like and by the time the beaches are nice I likely won't be getting as sick anyway. All that's left is to pray I'm not sick for White Day since I've literally been sick on both Christmas and Valentine's Day and my girlfriend was sick on New Year's so we haven't had a single proper holiday date yet.


  • BearNana
  • Veteran

    • 107

    • February 27, 2013, 10:33:57 am
    • Incheon
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2014, 03:13:29 pm »
I'm in the same boat. Although, I used to get tonsillitis regularly back home too. A K-Doctor told me I should have surgery, but I haven't done so yet.

In terms of school...Suck it up. It's horrible, but just go to school ill. If you look sick enough, your principal will tell you to go home. You don't want to get a reputation of always being sick. It's not your fault, but they definitely see it as a weakness of character here. At least if you go to school when you're sick, they'll see that you're committed. 


  • MJHanson
  • Expert Waygook

    • 502

    • May 02, 2011, 09:42:58 am
    • Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2014, 09:09:35 pm »
It's working with children combined with the very crowded nature of Korea.  50 million people crammed in small country with mass transit everywhere means lots of germs. 

Working with kids anywhere in the world also means lots of germs around.  I'm a bit of a germaphobe, so I never touch food without thoroughly washing my hands first.  I don't let kids touch me and I don't touch them. 

Some people are prone to tonsillitis and some aren't.  If it's chronic, you should probably get surgery.  Of course, I'm not a doctor. 


  • fizzyizzy
  • Waygookin

    • 19

    • February 17, 2014, 06:15:08 pm
    • Suwon
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2014, 09:45:36 pm »
I had twice yearly bouts of tonsillitis from about the age of 7, which became chronic in my late teens, to the extent where less than five days after I had finished a course of anti-biotics, I would have another bout, and usually a quinsy also. It got to the stage where I had to go into hospital for IV antibiotics so it would clear up and I could have them removed. My two sisters (a year older and a year younger) got it the first time with me, and have never had it since, so I must have been more susceptible to it than them.

If you find yourself still getting tonsillitis regularly as an adult, in all likelihood you will develop chronic tonsillitis and need to have them removed.

Incidentally, I haven't had a sore throat since having mine removed.


  • EL34
  • Expert Waygook

    • 728

    • September 28, 2013, 07:48:34 pm
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2014, 03:52:07 pm »
Right now there's a lot of sand coming in from China which carries bacteria and pollutants on top of being an irritant. It usually starts in January and can last until April (starts again in the fall). Something to consider.


  • Rafiqua
  • Super Waygook

    • 293

    • January 05, 2013, 04:15:41 pm
    • South Korea
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2014, 06:57:55 pm »
I used to get tonsillitis once a year, and then a few times one particular year, changed my lifestyle and didnt get it for about two years  prior to coming to korea. Since Korea I have had it like 5 times, and in winter two times consecutively. My doctor last week also told me I now have GERD as a result of alcohol and spicy food. Korea (life style, food, environment) is not good for my body and I can feel my health deteriorating. It sucks and I hate to take antibiotics and medications b/c it just creates a vicious cycle.


  • fl2sk
  • Adventurer

    • 34

    • May 02, 2013, 09:17:35 am
    • Gangwon-do
Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2014, 07:56:49 am »
hey OP do you take any vitamins? i started taking a multi-v, vitamin c and zinc when i got here, it's been almost a year, and i have never gotten sick. zinc is supposed to help fight viral infections which i'm pretty sure is the case behind tonsil issues. also TONS of water. i am the worst sick patient so i knew i had to be a step ahead of the game. being around little kids guarantees a sickness.

also plenty of rest...green veggies...fruits... :) hope you start to feel well soon!


Re: Chronic Tonsillitis
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2014, 10:12:10 am »
I also highly recommend vitamins. I had very similar problems to many previous posters: frequent illness, tonsillitis, inner-ear and nasal infections, the lot. After two bouts of tonsillitis, and then two inner-ear infections, I started taking high dose Vitamin C, Zinc, and oregano oil.

I know there is no one answer to everything, and you should always see the doctor if you become sick, but these things seemed to really save me. At the time my doctor was worried I was becoming immune to the antibiotics, as was I. I was still sick after being on meds for weeks. Within a couple days of taking said vitamins, I was drastically better. I kept taking normal everyday doses of Vitamin C and Zinc, and when I started to feel the first signs of illness, like stuffy ears or nose, I upped the dose of Vitamin C to around 10,000 mg a day (about 2 teaspoons), and started taking Oregano Oil. I would feel the barest effects of a cold for about two days, then it would go away. I never became seriously ill. I did this 2 or 3 times over the period of half a year, whenever I felt sick.

After those first few times, I almost never feel sick. I still take daily doses of C and Zinc, and it has been a couple years, but I never seem to get anything more than a weak cold. Please consider trying some Vitamins in addition to what the doctor gives you. I kept seeing the doctor those first few times I was starting to feel sick, but I never took the medicine he gave me, because my condition always seemed stable and ended quickly. I don't recommend you ignore the doctors meds, that was my decision, but after being on antibiotics for weeks and weeks over the course of 2 years, I didn't want them in my body anymore.

This was my reaction, and certainly cannot be guaranteed to work for you, but after reading enough of other peoples reactions to taking similar measures, and my own experience, I highly recommend it. Buy off iHerb if you can. Order the bottles of loose powder Vitamin C because they are the best deal. Take as little or as much as you want. It is incredibly hard to reach the toxic limit and overdose on C. I recommend 10,000 mg for several days when you feel sick, and around 2,000 daily when not. For Zinc, I take just the one pill everyday. Oregano oil I only take when sick. Some research indicates it can be dangerous for your liver if taken long term. I will take oregano oil for up to 5 days, long after my illness has disappeared, just to be safe.

Please read-up online about these things. Make the decision for yourself. It really can't hurt to try.