Tonsils are oval-shaped pink masses that sit on each side of the back of your throat. Adenoids are slightly smaller masses that sit in the back of your throat, behind your nose; they cannot be seen without a special instrument. They both play an important role in your body’s defense system.
The tonsils and adenoids work to trap germs that enter the body through the nose and mouth. Since they both come into direct contact with bacteria and viruses they can easily become infected. This causes the masses to become inflamed. An infection within the tonsils and adenoids is called tonsillitis and adenoiditis, respectively. It is important to note that adenoiditis very rarely occurs in adults. Adenoids begin to shrink after the age of seven and become increasingly smaller in adulthood.
Signs of tonsillitis are red and swollen tonsils, white or yellow coating over the tonsils, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and a fever. Signs of adenoiditis are mouth breathing, snoring at night and noisy breathing during the day.
If symptoms persist for longer than a week you should seek medical attention. Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam, looking in your throat, ears and nose. A throat swab will be run over the back of your throat to check for streptococcal bacteria. If the test comes back positive, you have a bacterial infection; if the test comes back negative the presumption is you are suffering from a viral infection.
Bacterial infections can be treated with a 10-day course of antibiotics. A viral infection is treated with rest, fluids and over-the-counter pain medications to manage the fever.
If the symptoms do not subside after treatment, or if you or your child experiences frequent infection, surgery may be needed. Often times, a tonsillectomy, the removal of the tonsils, and an adenoidectomy, the removal of the adenoids, are performed at the same time. This is an outpatient procedure and most can return home that same day.
If you would like additional information on how to treat these conditions or would like to know if surgery is the answer, contact our office at 337-266-9820.