Millions of children are evaluated every year for enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Read on to learn about tonsillitis and the surgical procedures used to remove enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids. 

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can cause obstructive sleep apnea, affecting breathing during sleep. Frequent throat and ear infections can also warrant the removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids.

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Tonsils and Adenoids Explained

Tonsillitis

Your tonsils are located in the back of your throat, are a part of your immune system and are very similar to lymph nodes. Tonsillitis, or infection of the tonsils, occurs when these structures become infected.

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

Although they may vary from patient to patient, symptoms of tonsillitis typically include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area
  • Tonsils with white or yellow coating

Treatment of Tonsillitis

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.

Tonsillectomy

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.

Procedure

Surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes approximately 30 minutes. Most patients go home a few hours after surgery.

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. 

Adenoidectomy

Adenoids are lymphoid tissue located behind the nose. An adenoidectomy is the surgical removal of the adenoid/s. 

An ENT doctor may recommend an adenoidectomy if a patient suffers from breathing disorders, chronic nasal congestion or repeated ear infections.

Procedure

Surgery is performed under general anesthesia and procedure takes 10-15 minutes. In most cases, children return to school the next day. 

If adenoidectomy is combined with tonsillectomy, recovery may take up to 10 to 14 days.

After Surgery

Pain after surgery is minimal and if necessary, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used. Children can resume a regular diet within one day of surgery.

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