Your tonsils and adenoids are lumps of tissue similar to lymph nodes and are part of the lymphatic system. Tonsils are on both sides of your throat and adenoids are on the top of your throat. Your tonsils can be seen when you look in the mirror with an open mouth, whereas your adenoids are not visible this way.
As part of your immune system, tonsils and adenoids strategic location helps your body guard against infectious diseases by trapping bacteria and viruses that gain entry through your mouth and nose. And sometimes these pathogens causes them to become enlarged, inflamed and sore due to an infection.
The most common causes for enlarged tonsils and adenoids are strep bacteria (strep throat) and Epstein-Barr virus (mono). Some of the other possible causes for enlarged tonsils and adenoids are a cyst, abscess, tumor or cancer.
Symptoms of tonsil and adenoid enlargement may involve:
- sore throat
- foul breath odor
- redder than normal
- slight voice change
- breathing problems
- swallowing difficulty
Treatment for enlarged tonsils and adenoids caused by a bacteria infection is antibiotics. Steroids, such as cortisone, may be helpful if your tonsil and adenoid enlargement causes a significant obstruction of your airway. However, there are cases when your health care provider will advise surgical removal in part or in total.
Tonsillectomy means surgical removal of your tonsils and adenoidectomy is adenoids. Typical scenarios for which a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy treatment may be required is if your tonsillitis or enlarged adenoids is a chronic health condition and no longer responds to antibiotics. Other reasons are if your enlarged tonsils and adenoids are caused by cancer or a tumor.
The procedure is usually performed within an hour under general anesthesia. Typical recovery within a health care setting is around four hours, unless excessive bleeding or inability to take in fluids requires a longer stay.
During your home recovery you’ll probably experience some pain, for which pain relievers will be prescribed, and weight loss due to a reluctance to eat because of your pain. However, an intake of fluids is a must to avoid dehydration. And the scab the forms where your tonsils and adenoids once were may cause some bad breath for a week or so until they fall off.
Full recovery from a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy treatment can generally be expected within a couple of weeks.