Tonsils and Adenoids
What are the tonsils and adenoids?
Tonsils and adenoids are similar to the lymph nodes. They are the body’s first line of defense as part of the immune system. They sample bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the mouth or nose, but they sometimes become infected. The tonsils are the two round lumps in the back of the throat. Adenoids are high in the throat, above the roof of the mouth and at the very back of the nose. They and are not visible through the mouth or nose without special instruments.
What affects the tonsils and adenoids?
The two most common problems affecting the tonsils and adenoids are recurrent infections of the nose and throat, and significant enlargement that causes nasal obstruction and/or breathing, swallowing, and sleep problems.
Abscesses around the tonsils, chronic tonsillitis, and infections of small pockets within the tonsils that produce foul-smelling white deposits can also affect the tonsils and adenoids, making them sore and swollen. Cancers of the tonsil, while uncommon, require early diagnosis and aggressive treatment.
Tonssilitis and its Symptoms
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils. The tonsils can become swollen, red, and coated. Patients can have a sore throat, change in voice, discomfort swallowing, swollen lymph nodes, fevers and bad breath.
Enlarged Tonsils and/or Adenoids and its Symptoms
Enlarged adenoids may make it hard to breathe through the nose, cause mouth breathing, a nasal voice, chronic runny nose, and recurrent ear infections. Enlarged tonsils can cause snoring at night, restless sleep, pausing for a few seconds at night, and difficulty swallowing.
How are tonsil and adenoid disease treated?
Bacterial infections of the tonsils, especially those caused by Strep, are first treated with antibiotics. Removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) and/or adenoids (adenoidectomy) may be recommended if these infections are recurrent despite antibiotic therapy. It may also be recommended in cases of difficulty breathing due to enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids.
How To Prepare for Surgery
- For at least two weeks before any surgery, the patient should refrain from taking aspirin or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). (WARNING: Children should never be given aspirin because of the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome). Your doctor may ask to you to stop taking other medications that may interfere with clotting.
- Tell your surgeon if the patient or patient’s family has had any problems with anesthesia or clotting of blood. If the patient is taking blood thinning medications, has sickle cell anemia, has a bleeding disorder, or if the patient is pregnant, the surgeon should be informed.
- A blood test may be required prior to surgery.
- You will be given specific instructions on when to stop eating food and drinking liquids before surgery. These instructions are extremely important, as anything in the stomach may be vomited when anesthesia is induced.
There are several postoperative problems that may arise. These include pain, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, fever, and ear pain. Rarely, bleeding from the mouth or nose may occur after surgery. If the patient has any bleeding, your surgeon should be notified immediately. It is also important to drink plenty of liquids after surgery to avoid dehydration.
Any questions or concerns you have should be discussed openly with your surgeon.