Courtesy of Cy-Fair Hospital
Tonsils and adenoids are part of the body’s immune system that helps fight infections. Tonsils are located on either side of the back of the throat and adenoids are behind the soft palate, which is the back, muscular part of the roof of the mouth. Usually they work as the first line of defense against harmful bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the nose or mouth. But sometimes they can become more of a liability than an asset if they frequently become infected or are enlarged. In these situations, they may need to be removed.
The surgical operation to remove tonsils is called a tonsillectomy and for adenoids is an adenoidectomy. These procedures are not always performed at the same time, as only one or the other may be necessary. They usually are performed on children, although sometimes they also may be necessary for adults.
A tonsillectomy is considered when other treatments have not been effective and may be recommended if the child has:
Experienced chronic tonsil infections.
Swollen tonsils that cause breathing or swallowing problems.
An abscess (small pocket of infection) at the back of the throat.
Chronic bad breath.
Been snoring to the extent that it affects daily activities.
Obstructive sleep apnea.
An adenoidectomy is typically performed in situations when then child has:
Enlarged adenoids blocking the airway, causing snoring, nasal obstruction or sleep apnea.
Chronic ear infections that could lead to hearing loss and potential speech problems.
Recurrent or chronic sinusitis in children.
“Both tonsillitis and ear infections are considered to be chronic if they do not respond to antibiotic treatment and the child experiences seven or more episodes in one year, five episodes per year for two years, or three episodes per year for three years,” says Ninh Nguyen, DO, ENT specialist on the medical staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “If not treated, tonsillitis can lead to more serious complications resulting in damage to other organs in the body, such as the heart or kidneys.”
Symptoms of tonsillitis include tonsils that may be swollen or redder than normal, sore throat, fever, difficulty swallowing, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, yellowish coating on the tonsils, bad breath, or slight voice change. Signs of enlarged adenoids include breathing through the mouth instead of the nose, noisy breathing, snoring, frequent ear infections, sleep apnea, or sound of nasal congestion when speaking.
Children may have a sore throat for about a week after a tonsillectomy. Eating soft, cool foods, such as ice cream or jell-o, after surgery and avoiding foods that have hard edges, such as chips or pizza, can help with recovery and reduce the risk of bleeding.
Highly skilled and experienced pediatricians, pediatric surgeons, nurses and other specially trained staff are part of the team at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital that is here to provide your child with the specific care they need. For more information about services for children at the hospital, visit www.CyFairHospital.com/ENT.