Cleveland Head and Neck Clinic

Tonsil and Adenoid Problems

The tonsils are lymph tissue located on each side at the back of the throat and may cause problems in both children and adults. They may be frequently infected with Strep or other bacteria and contribute to repeated or chronic sore throats, fevers, swelling in the neck, difficulty swallowing, bad breath and tonsil stones. Enlargement of the tonsils can lead to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (blockage to breathing). Also, if one tonsil is much bigger than the other, there is more concern about a more serious condition in the larger tonsil and would be a reason for removal or biopsy.

Adenoids are lymph tissue located at the back of the nose and are not usually visible when looking directly at the throat. Enlargement or chronic infection of the adenoids can lead to nasal drainage, mouth breathing, and ear infections. Common in children, adenoid problems are often misdiagnosed as allergies or sinusitis. They generally shrink during adolescence so it is rare for adults to have adenoid problems. Diagnosis is by symptoms and exam, sometimes with the help of X-rays or endoscopic examinations.

If medical treatment fails then removal of the tonsils, or tonsils and adenoids in children, is a very common outpatient surgical procedure. Removal of the tonsils and adenoids has no effect on the immune system.