Your tonsils and adenoids are key to staying in good health and play an important role in your body’s defence against illness. Sometimes though people can experience issues with these crucial body parts and need to find out more information about them. If you find yourself in this boat, we go through below what they are, the problems which can occur with them and the possible treatments on offer.
What are the tonsils and adenoids?
While these might be terms we hear a lot, many people feel confused about what their tonsils and adenoids are. In simple terms, your tonsils are the two round lumps located at the back of your throat. Your adenoids on the other hand are found higher in the throat and are located behind your nose/roof of the mouth. While tonsils can be seen by the naked eye (especially if inflamed or infected), adenoids cannot be seen through the mouth or nose without the right equipment.
What do the tonsils and adenoids do?
Your tonsils and adenoids form part of the body’s immune system and play a key role in keeping you healthy. But how exactly do they do this?
The main way they protect us from illness is by sampling bacteria/viruses as they come into our body through the nose or mouth. This then enables the body to recognise the kind of bacteria/viruses coming from it and react as appropriate. As a result, tonsils and adenoids that are not working as intended can reduce our ability to deal with bacteria or viruses efficiently.
What problems can occur with your tonsils or adenoids?
The most common issues people have is their tonsils or adenoids becoming infected. Tonsillitis is one of the most widely seen infections associated with this part of the body. Symptoms of tonsillitis include:
– swelling of tonsils
– yellow or white coating on tonsils
– tonsils appear redder than usual
– change in pitch of voice
– sore throat
– ear pain
– hurts to swallow
– lymph nodes in neck swollen
– bad breath
In some cases, the adenoids or tonsils can also get too large which also causes problems. If you think you might be suffering with this condition, it could be hard to breathe normally through your nose and you may have trouble sleeping. Other common signs of enlarged tonsils or adenoids include:
– blocked sounding nose when speaking
– noisy breathing
– constant runny nose
– night time snoring
– constant ear infections
Cancer of the tonsils is another condition that can occur and requires early diagnosis but is relatively uncommon.
What should you do if you are having adenoid or tonsil issues?
The first thing you should do is consult a qualified ENT medical professional. The next step will usually be to visit them in person, so they can diagnose your symptoms further. As well as asking about the symptoms you are having, they may also examine your head/neck and use equipment such as a flexible lighted instrument to check your tonsils/adenoids visually.
Your physician may also take strep tests or throat cultures to pin down what type of infection may be present in the body. If required, your physician may also order an X-ray or blood tests to look for conditions such as mononucleosis. If you are having trouble sleeping due to your condition, they may also ask for a sleep study to be completed. This will help them decide if sleep apnea is an issue and if your poor sleep is due to enlarged adenoids/tonsils.
What treatments are available?
If it is a bacterial infection, this will normally be treated with antibiotics. If you experience regular infections over time or are finding it hard to breathe, a tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils) and/or an adenoidectomy (removal of the adenoids) may be needed. For those patients with infectious mononucleosis whose airway is being obstructed by enlarged tonsils/adenoids, treatment with steroids is sometimes an option. As an adult, the removal of your tonsils/adenoids may also be required if your physician thinks there is the possibility of cancer or a tumour in them.
Help with throat issues at 150 Harley Street
Here at 150 Harley Street, our team of fully qualified and experienced throat specialists can help if you are suffering from problems with your tonsils or adenoids. Get in touch on 020 3075 3150 to speak with us further and book your consultation.