The tonsils and adenoids are part of the lymphatic system and serve as defenders of the immune system, protecting your body by preventing germs and bacteria from entering through your mouth and nose. Occasionally, they will develop problems themselves, requiring the attention of an ENT specialist.

Tonsil & Adenoid Problems

The tonsils (located in the back of the throat) and adenoids (high in the throat, behind the nose and soft palate) work together to protect the body from illness – but sometimes fall prey themselves.

Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils that causes soreness and swelling. Affected tonsils appear red and may have white or yellow spots. Symptoms include sore throat, fever, bad breath, ear pain, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and difficulty swallowing. Surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) was a common practice in the past, but nowadays doctors prefer to treat the condition with antibiotics first. If a patient is subject to chronic tonsillitis, a tonsillectomy (and often an adenoidectomy, as well) may be recommended.

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are another problem; they block the airways and cause soreness, ear infections and breathing difficulties. Side effects include runny nose, snoring and sleep apnea. Steroid treatment is sometimes helpful, but in many cases, enlarged tonsils and adenoids need to be removed surgically.