Tonsils and adenoids are masses of tissue that are similar to the lymph nodes or “glands” found in the neck, groin, and armpits. Tonsils are the two masses at the back of the throat (see image). Adenoids are high in the throat behind the nose and the roof of the mouth (soft palate) and are not visible through the mouth without special instruments.
Tonsils and adenoids are situated at the entrance to the breathing passages. They filter out germs as they transverse the air passages and help the body develop immunity to the germs. This happens primarily during the first few years of life, becoming less important as we get older. Removal of the tonsils and adenoids in children does not cause a decrease in their immunity.
What affects Tonsils and Adenoids?
The most common problems affecting the tonsils and adenoids are recurrent infections (throat or ear) and significant enlargement or obstruction that cause breathing and swallowing problems. Abscesses around the tonsils, chronic tonsillitis, and infections of small pockets within the tonsils that produce foul-smelling, cheese-like formations can also affect the tonsils and adenoids, making them sore and swollen. Tumors are uncommon, but can grow on tonsils.
Tonsillitis and its Symptoms
Tonsillitis is an infection in one or both tonsils. One sign is swelling of the tonsils. Other signs or symptoms are:
- Redder than normal tonsils
- A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
- A slight voice change due to swelling
- Sore throat & Bad Breath
- Uncomfortable or painful swallowing
- Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck
Enlarged Adenoids and their Symptoms
If your or your child’s adenoids are enlarged, it may be hard to breath through the nose. Other signs of constant enlargement are:
- Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose most of the time
- Nose sounds “blocked” when the person speaks
- Noisy breathing during the day
- Recurrent ear infections
- Snoring at night
- Breathing stops for a few seconds at night during snoring or loud breathing (sleep apnoea)
In situations of frequent tonsillitis, enlarged tonsils & adenoids and sleep apnoea, surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids can be curative. These procedures can now be performed as a day procedure with no need for hospitalisation
Book an appointment with HealthSense Specialist Dr. YT Pang to look at your ENT problems and get cured.