Some people I know would never eat anything cold during tonsillitis, because they think ice cream can worsen it (some others are afraid ice cream could cause it, when ice cream is eaten with a cold outside temperature, and some others - Get Rid of Summer Tonsillitis - are afraid ice cream could cause it when eaten during a very warm weather, but both of this is probably out of the scope of this question).

Some other claim eating cold food like ice cream can relieve symptoms and some other claim it can even help curing the tonsillitis.

Does ice cream help relieving tonsillitis symptoms or even help curing the tonsillitis (reducing the tonsillitis duration)?

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    Cold can help with swelling in other contexts, no? So if some of the discomfort is attributable to swelling... Though I supposed that you'd have to eat unreasonable amounts of ice cream to keep it up. Feb 2, 2012 at 19:59
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    I always assumed eating ice cream during tonsillitis was because it was easy to eat and cheered up the sufferer. Feb 2, 2012 at 20:05
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    @dmckee, according to the first aid course I went on recently, research has shown that cold doesn't help with swelling - only with comfort. I'd like to see the research done on this... Feb 2, 2012 at 21:41
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    The reason they think it can cause it is unlogical, if they already have it. And there are billions of people who consume ice cream without getting ill - surely this is a well known fact. Feb 8, 2012 at 4:11
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    @dmckee - I like your excuse... erm plan of eating an unreasonable amount of ice cream to relieve the swelling!
    – Chad
    Dec 23, 2013 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


You asked at just the right time. New research has just been published to help settle this age-old question.

The conclusion they reach is clear:

Our data suggest that ice-lollies are a cheap, effective and safe method of reducing postoperative pain up to one hour following paediatric tonsillectomy.

They based this conclusion on a sample of 92 patients, aged 2-12, about half of which were randomly given ice-lollies as treatment, and having nurses do several pain assessments over a period of 4 hours.

The pain score at every time interval was lower in the group that had received the ice-lolly compared with the group that had not. This was statistically significant at 30 (P = 0.008) and 60 min (P = 0.049).

There are two factors I would love to learn more about with this prospective study.

1) Were the "blinded" nurses taking the pain scores the same nurses responsible for cleaning up the ice-cream off the faces of the smaller children?

2) Were the children who did NOT receive ice-lollies familiar with the standard protocol (i.e. tonsillitis = lots of ice-cream)? Was there a nocebo effect, where the control group were upset about the lack of expected ice-cream?

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    Note: This is about post-operative care, not during the symptoms of tonsillitis.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 7, 2012 at 5:27
  • giving children treats will make them feel better, whether it's physiological or psychological doesn't matter :) Not sure about now, but when I was that age all kids had their tonsils removed as a preventative measure, the hospital always kept ice lollies in stock for the purpose.
    – jwenting
    Feb 7, 2012 at 6:45
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    While interesting, tonsillectomy is not the same thing as tonsillitis, I am afraid.
    – Suma
    Feb 7, 2012 at 6:56
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    Keep in mind... "ice-lollies" are not the same as "ice-cream". Most "ice-lollies" are not even dairy based. They are more commonly some fruit flavored water-based concoction. I can't find any reference in the type of ice-lolly in the article.
    – TheCompWiz
    Feb 10, 2012 at 17:17
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    In other words, one control group should have been given non-cold sweets to suck on, another should have been given unflavoured ice lollies, and another ice cream to be eaten with a spoon, to distinguish three different possible causes (sweets, sucking, and coldness). Mar 17, 2016 at 11:01

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