Tonsils and adenoids are part of a ring of lymphoid tissue encircling the back of the throat and nose. The tonsils are visible at the back of the mouth, one on each side of the throat. The adenoids are a clump of tissue found high in the throat, behind the nose. They can only be examined by special instruments or an X-ray.
They help the body fight infection by forming antibodies to germs that enter the nose and mouth. Sometimes, tonsils and adenoids can get infected, or cause problems by being too large. Studies so far show that a child's immunity is not affected after removal of the tonsils and adenoids.
Common problems that require removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids (Tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy) include:
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils. Symptoms include high fever and severe sore throat.
Snoring/Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are the most common cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea in children. If untreated, this may cause behavioural and learning issues. Over time, untreated OSA may also have (negative) effects on blood pressure and the heart.
Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion
Persistent fluid in the middle ear may be linked to enlarged or infected adenoids.
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. Removal of the adenoids may be beneficial for children with recurrent or persistent sinus infections not responding to antibiotic treatment.
A peritonsillar abscess occurs when pus forms around the tonsil.
Asymmetry of the tonsils may be a sign of a tumour (e.g. lymphoma) of the larger side.
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