Tonsils and Adenoids

Tonsils and adenoids are lymphoid tissue that are similar to the lymph nodes or glands that are found in the neck, armpits or groin.

Tonsils are the glands that are found in the back of the throat. They can be seen through an open mouth.

Adenoids are high up in the throat, behind the nose and the roof of the mouth. The roof of the mouth is called the naso-pharynx. Adenoids are not able to be seen through the nose or the mouth without the use of special instruments.


  • Common problems that occur with tonsils and adenoids are recurring infections of the nose and throat, and the enlargement that causes nasal obstruction, breathing problems or even swallowing problems.
  • Chronic tonsillitis and abscesses around the tonsils can make them sore and swollen. Sometimes the small pockets within the tonsils can become infected and produce foul smelling white deposits. These are called tonsiliths or tonsil stones.
  • Cancer of the tonsils is quite uncommon, but an early diagnosis is needed and if detected, needs to be treated quite aggressively.

You need to see Dr Katzen when you or your child begin to suffer from the common symptoms of either enlarged or infected tonsils or adenoids.

We will take a thorough history as well as a physical examination. A swab or culture of the throat is taken to determine if there is an infection.  There is also specialised equipment that an ear, nose and throat surgeon uses that allows us to see behind the nose, which is very helpful to see the size and the shape of the adenoids.

If the adenoids are enlarged, it can be hard to breathe through your nose. If both the tonsils and adenoids are enlarged breathing while asleep can be disturbed.

Some of the symptoms of enlarged tonsils and adenoids are:

  • Noisy breathing during the day.
  • Recurrent ear infections.
  • Snoring at night.
  • Chronic runny nose.
  • The nose sounds blocked when you speak.

Treatment of Tonsils and Adenoids

A bacterial infection of the tonsils is first treated with antibiotics. If despite antibiotic therapy, there are recurring infections, the removal of the tonsils and adenoids may be recommended. The removal of the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy and the removal of the adenoids is called an adenoidectomy. These are both surgical procedures and are commonly performed together.

Chronic infections of the adenoids can also affect other areas such as the eustachian tubes which is the passage between the back of the nose and the inside of the ear. This can lead to frequent ear infections and a buildup of fluid in the middle ear.  It can be helpful to remove the adenoids in children who suffer with chronic earache which is accompanied by fluid in the middle ear. This is called otitis media with effusion.

For peace of mind and a doctor that is caring and gentle with children, make an appointment with Dr Katzen today.