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Tonsils and Adenoid Disease

Tonsil/Adenoid Disease

Tonsil and adenoid disease remains one of the most common reasons to visit an ENT doctor. The tonsils and adenoids are comprised of lymphoid tissue and have no true function in the body. The tonsils are located in the back of the throat, while the adenoids are located in the very back of the nose. They were once thought to provide self defense to the body, lessening infection. We now know that removing this tissue has no effect on the immune system.

Frequently, the tonsil and adenoids may become infected. The usual culprits are Strep, Staph and other bacteria commonly found in the mouth. Most infections resolve quickly with antibiotics. Some children and adults will develop recurrent infections, which lead to too many missed school and work days. When an individual has had 4-6 infections in a single year, consideration may be given to tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Surgery may also be considered if 3-4 infections a year have occurred for several years running.

When tonsils and adenoids become markedly enlarged, difficulty breathing may be encountered. This especially evident at night. Some children develop inability to breathe through their noses and become chronic mouth breathers. Loud snoring with breaks in breathing is characteristic of enlarged tonsils and adenoids in children. Should you note these symptoms in your child, evaluation is necessary, as chronic changes in the lungs and heart may occur from persistent obstruction. Behavioral changes may also be noted, such as poor attention span and poor performance in school.

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is performed on an outpatient basis. The surgery typically takes 30 to 45 minutes to perform. The recovery period is 7-14 days. Children under the age of 4 are usually observed overnight in the hospital. Adults will usually miss 10 to 14 days of work following tonsillectomy.

The surgery is often performed using coblation or radio frequency current. This method has been shown to decrease post-operative recovery, especially in children.


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