Millions of children are evaluated every year for enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can cause obstructive sleep apnea, affecting breathing during sleep. Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include snoring, loud breathing, open mouth breathing, restless sleep, pauses in breathing during sleep, daytime sleepiness, crankiness and hyperactivity. Frequent throat and ear infections can also be a reason to remove the tonsils and adenoids.
The tonsils are part of the immune system; they are very similar to lymph nodes. Tonsillitis, or infection of the tonsils, occurs when these structures in the back of the throat become infected.
While most patients recover quickly with or without medication, some may suffer from frequent infections. In cases of recurrent tonsillitis, a tonsillectomy, or the surgical removal of the tonsils, may be recommended.
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
Although they may vary from patient to patient, symptoms of tonsillitis typically include:
- Sore throat
- Red, swollen tonsils
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area
- Tonsils with white or yellow coating
Treatment of Tonsillitis
If a patient exhibits symptoms of tonsillitis, one of the physicians at Northwest ENT and Allergy Center can make a diagnosis and determine a treatment plan. Over-the-counter treatments, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and lozenges, are often recommended for immediate pain relief.
Those who suffer from recurrent infections of the tonsils may require a tonsillectomy, a common ENT surgical procedure.
A tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. This procedure is often recommended for children who suffer from recurrent sore throats or strep infections. Tonsillectomy is also performed for sleep-related breathing disorders associated with enlarged tonsils and adenoids, such as sleep apnea.
In children, a tonsillectomy is always performed under general anesthesia. Because the tonsils are removed directly through the mouth, there are no external incisions.
Surgery takes approximately 30 minutes, and most patients go home a few hours after surgery.
Recovery from a tonsillectomy is different for each child; it can take anywhere from 3 to 10 days for a child to return to a normal diet and level of activity.
Patients will experience mild to moderate pain in the throat, ears, and jaw during the recovery period. To ensure proper recovery after surgery, patients should:
- Take recommended medications
- Drink fluids often
- Get plenty of rest
Adenoidectomy is the surgical removal of the adenoids, the lymphoid tissue located behind the nose. Removal of the adenoids is sometimes necessary to restore normal breathing and relieve pressure in the ears and nose.
An ENT doctor may recommend an adenoidectomy if a patient suffers from:
- Obstructed nasal breathing
- Chronic nasal drainage
- Sleep apnea
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
An adenoidectomy is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure takes 10-15 minutes and in most cases, children return to school the next day. However, if adenoidectomy is combined with tonsillectomy, recovery may take up to 10 to 14 days.
During an adenoidectomy, the adenoids are removed directly from the mouth, and there are no external incisions. There are many different techniques for adenoid removal.
Pain after surgery is minimal. If necessary, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used. Children can resume a regular diet within one day of surgery.
For more information, call Northwest ENT and Allergy Center at 770-427-0368 today.