The tonsils and adenoids are lymph glands made up of tissues, fibers and white blood cells in the body’s immune system.
Tonsils are the two round lumps in your throat that the doctor examines when he tells you to stick out your tongue and say “ah.” Tonsils are prone to swelling, soreness and abscesses when they become infected. Swollen tonsils can obstruct the throat and make swallowing, breathing and sleeping difficult.
Adenoids have the same function as tonsils, but they are located in the throat behind the nose and above the soft palate. Adenoids are prone to the same conditions as tonsils, but they can cause additional problems with the ear, because the adenoids are located near the Eustachian tubes. Symptoms of adenoid and tonsil infections may include sore throat, stuffy nose, bad breath, earache, fever, swallowing difficulties and snoring.
Bacterial tonsil and adenoid infections are first treated with antibiotics, as is the case with most bacterial infections. However, chronic infections or other serious problems may require surgery. If your tonsils and adenoids make you chronically or recurrently sick and uncomfortable, you and your doctor may decide that removal is the best option. Surgery of the tonsils is called tonsillectomy. Surgery of the adenoids is called adenoidectomy.
Tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies are more commonly performed on children, but occasionally adults may require a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy as well. Visit an ENT doctor if you notice prolonged symptoms of infected or enlarged tonsils or adenoids.