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Tonsil And Adenoid Problems

Southern ENT & Sinus Center

Otolaryngologists located in Birmingham, AL

Tonsil and adenoid problems only affect children because these small lymph organs start to shrink around the age of nine and virtually disappear during the teens. D. Trent Lowery, MD, David Walters, MD, Matthew Fort, MD, and the team at Southern ENT & Sinus Center in Birmingham, Alabama, diagnose and treat the full scope of children’s ENT problems, including issues caused by the tonsils and adenoids. If your child frequently has a sore throat or ear infections, call the office or schedule an appointment online to learn if infected tonsils and adenoids are the cause of their problems.

Tonsil and Adenoid Problems Q & A

What are the tonsils and adenoids?

Tonsils are located on each side of your throat, while adenoids are tucked into the roof of your mouth near the back of your throat. Tonsils and adenoids are part of the immune system. Their job is to prevent infection by trapping and eliminating germs, viruses, and other harmful organisms.

Problems develop when these tissues become infected. That’s when your child has tonsillitis or adenoiditis. 

As the tonsils and/or adenoids become inflamed and enlarged, the tissues can also cause other problems, including:

  • Chronic rhinitis (nose infections)
  • Chronic sinusitis (sinus infections)
  • Chronic middle ear infections
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blocked sinuses
  • Strep throat
  • Tonsil stones (tonsilloliths)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

Enlarged tonsils are one of the top causes of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children. OSA affects 1-5% of all children, often developing between the ages of 2-6.

What symptoms develop due to tonsil and adenoid problems?

Children have one or more of the following symptoms when their tonsils and adenoids are infected:

  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • White or yellow coating on the tonsils
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping

Tonsil stones, which are hardened pieces of calcium on the outside of tonsils, cause bad breath, a sore throat, and the feeling that something is irritating the back of the throat.

If your child develops OSA, they will snore, sleep restlessly, and feel tired throughout the day. Tiredness in children, however, is often seen in the form of fussiness or disobedience.

How are tonsil and adenoid problems treated?

The team at Southern ENT & Sinus Center treats mild and infrequent infections with conservative options such as medications to reduce the swelling and antibiotics to fight a bacterial infection.

They recommend surgery to remove the tonsils and/or adenoids when conservative treatment doesn’t help, or your child has persistent problems such as recurrent tonsillitis and frequent ear, nasal, or sinus infections. 

Surgery may also be the best option when the tonsils are so large they constantly interfere with swallowing and breathing, or your child develops OSA.

During surgery, called tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, the physician inserts the surgical instruments through your child’s mouth and then uses one of several techniques to remove their tonsils and adenoids. In most cases, children go home the same day as their surgery.

If you notice ongoing tonsil and adenoid symptoms in your child, call Southern ENT & Sinus Center, or schedule an appointment online.