What are the tonsils and adenoids?
Tonsils are two masses of tissue on either side of the back of the throat. Adenoids are made up of the same type of tissue and are located high in the throat behind the nose. Adenoids are not visible without the use of special instruments.
Tonsils and adenoids are made up of tissue similar to the lymph nodes or glands found throughout the rest of the body. They are part of the body’s immune system, sampling things we eat and breath such as bacteria and viruses and helping the immune system resist and fight infections.
The size of the tonsils varies enormously between individuals. The adenoids typically stop growing around the age of 8 and then gradually reduce in size over time. Even though the tonsils and adenoids are part of the immune system, it is generally accepted that their removal does not increase the risk of infections.
What conditions affect tonsils and adenoids?
The two most common problems affecting the tonsils and adenoids in children are recurrent infections and significant enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids causing breathing and swallowing problems.
Tonsillitis is most often caused by a viral infection but bacterial infections can also occur. The most common bacterial infection is a streptococcal infection.
Common symptoms of tonsillitis are a sore throat, fever, painful swallowing or a reluctance to eat in young children, swollen neck glands and generally feeling unwell. The tonsils may appear red and inflamed and they may also have white or yellow spots of pus on their surface.
Individual episodes of tonsillitis are usually treated by your GP with a combination of pain relief, rest and fluids. In some cases, antibiotics will be prescribed if a bacterial infection is suspected.
Unfortunately, some children develop recurrent episodes of tonsillitis which significantly impact on their quality of life. In these circumstances, removing the tonsils and adenoids may be considered.
At WestsideENT, we specialise in the care of children with ear nose and throat problems and your specialist will discuss with you the best option for your child.
Enlarged adenoids are common in children and may not cause any symptoms or problems.
If the adenoids become very enlarged, they may cause symptoms such as:
- Noisy or rattly breathing through the nose.
- Difficulty breathing through the nose resulting in mainly mouth breathing.
- A constant runny nose with discharge which is often discoloured.
- Snoring at night.
Enlarged adenoids may also block the eustachian tubes, contributing to glue ear and recurrent ear infections.
The treatment of enlarged adenoids depends on the severity of the symptoms. In many cases, no treatment is needed. If symptoms are severe, removal of the adenoids may be considered.
Your WestsideENT specialist will carry out a comprehensive assessment and discuss treatment options with you to achieve the best possible outcome for your child.