The tonsils and adenoids are lymph glands made up of tissues, fibers and white blood cells in the body’s immune system. They test the bacteria coming in through the mouth and nose when you inhale and attack it if it is dangerous. Since the glands are constantly exposed to bacteria, they can easily become infected and end up doing your body more harm than good.
Symptoms of both adenoid and tonsil infections include sore throat, stuffy nose, bad breath, earache, heavy mouth breathing, snoring and sleep apnea. Tonsil and adenoid infections are first treated with antibiotics, as with most infections. However, chronic infections or more serious problems may require surgery. If your tonsils and adenoids make you sick and uncomfortable, they are no longer doing their job to prevent disease. At this point, the doctor may decide that removal is the best option.
Surgery of the tonsils is called tonsillectomy. Surgery of the adenoids is called adenoidectomy. Tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies are performed by otolaryngologists, or ENTs. The patient is given general anesthesia, the mouth is propped open, and the doctor removes the glands by making a small incision and taking them out through the mouth. The procedure usually takes only 30 to 45 minutes.
The patient is able to go home after surgery, assuming there are no complications. At home, it is important for the patient to drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated and speed recovery. A soft diet is recommended due to the incisions, or scabs, in the back of the throat. Fever and vomiting are possible side effects of anesthesia, but should go away within 24 hours of the procedure.
Tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies are more commonly performed on children, but some adults may require removal of infected tonsils or adenoids. Visit a doctor if you notice prolonged symptoms of infected or enlarged tonsils or adenoids.