What are the tonsils and adenoids?

Tonsils and adenoids are masses of tissue that are similar to the lymph nodes or glands found in the neck. Tonsils are the two masses on the back of the throat. Adenoids are high in the throat behind the nose and the roof of the mouth (soft palate) and are not visible through the mouth without special instruments or X-ray.

What are common problems affecting tonsils and adenoids?

The most common problems affecting the tonsils and adenoids are recurrent infections (throat or ear) and significant enlargement or obstruction that cause breathing and swallowing problems. Abscesses around the tonsils, chronic tonsillitis, and infections of small pockets within the tonsils that produce foul-smelling, cheese-like formations can also affect the tonsils and adenoids, making them sore and swollen. Tumors are rare, but can grow on the tonsils.

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is an infection in one or both tonsils. One sign is swelling of the tonsils. Other signs or symptoms are:

  • Abnormally red tonsils
  • A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
  • A slight voice change due to swelling
  • Sore throat
  • Uncomfortable or painful swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck
  • Fever
  • Bad breath

How do I know if my child’s adenoids are enlarged?

If you or your child's adenoids are enlarged, it may be hard to breathe through the nose. Other signs of persistent enlargement are:

  • Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose most of the time
  • Nose sounds "blocked" when the person speaks
  • Noisy breathing during the day
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Snoring
  • Breathing stops for a few seconds at night during snoring or loud breathing (sleep apnea)

How do I know if my child needs a tonsillectomy?

If your child has had recurrent tonsillitis or strep infections (4 per year or 3 per year for 2 years or more), large tonsils that cause snoring or swallowing difficulty, chronic bad breath or is identified as a strep carrier, a tonsillectomy may improve quality of life and prevent long-term health problems.

What is a tonsillectomy?

When medically necessary, tonsils are removed by Coblation™, which takes just 15 minutes and does not require hospitalization. Performed as an outpatient procedure, Coblation is the process of surgically dissolving tissue using radiofrequency.

Coblation seems to reduce postoperative pain by 50 percent, but a week of sore throat should be expected after tonsillectomy. Antibiotics, liquid pain medication, and a soft diet are recommended.


Learn More or Schedule an Appointment

To learn more or make an appointment, call 678-312-7390 or schedule online. 

  • Gwinnett ENT
    3855 Pleasant Hill Road,Suite 280
    Duluth, GA 30096

    Office: 678-312-7390

  • Gwinnett ENT

    3855 Pleasant Hill Road,Suite 280
    Duluth, GA 30096

    Hours of Operation

    Monday, Wednesday and Thursday:
    8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

    Tuesday: 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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