What are the adenoids and tonsils?

The adenoids and tonsils are part of a group of lymphoid tissues (like the glands in the neck) that help to fight off infection from germs that are breathed in or swallowed.

The adenoids and tonsils enlarge naturally in children at around the age of 3 and usually shrink away again by the age of 7.

The enlarged adenoids can result in a blocked or runny nose and may make your child snore (see figure 1).

Tonsillitis happens if the tonsils become infected. This causes pain, fever and difficulty swallowing and can make your child feel unwell.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your child should get relief from a blocked or runny nose, and may get a better quality of sleep.

The operation prevents tonsillitis but will not prevent all sore throats.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Your doctor may be able to give you steroid nasal sprays to improve your child’s symptoms of a blocked nose and reduce the size of the adenoids.

There are no other treatments for enlarged adenoids other than to leave them alone and wait for the problem to get better.

Surgery is the only dependable way to stop tonsillitis that keeps on coming back.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 30 minutes.

Your surgeon will remove the adenoids and tonsils through your child’s mouth.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)

2 Specific complications

  • Adenoid tissue regrowing
  • Small pieces of the tonsil may be left behind
  • Lingual tonsillitis

How soon will my child recover?

Your child should be able to go home the same day or the day after.

Your child will need to stay off school and away from groups of people for two weeks. This is to help prevent throat infections while your child’s throat is still healing.

Most children make a full recovery and return to normal activities.


Author: Miss Ruth Capper MD FRCS (ORL-HNS)

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com and Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com


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Adenoid and Tonsil Removal - where does it take place?

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