The tonsils and adenoids are areas of special tissue, called lymphatic tissue, at the back of the throat. Tonsils and adenoids help defend children's bodies from infection. They contain cells and antibodies of the immune system to help prevent throat and lung infections and trap bacteria and viruses that are breathed in. There are two tonsils, one on either side of your throat at the back of the mouth; both are clearly visible in children. Adenoids are a single patch of tissue high in the throat behind the nose and can't be seen by looking in the mouth.
Adenoids and tonsils seem to grow during childhood and then shrink around the age of four. They are important as infection fighters for babies and young children but by the time your child reaches adulthood, his or her adenoids and tonsils will have disappeared almost completely. This is because they are no longer needed as your child's body will have other defense mechanisms to fight against infection.
Because adenoids and tonsils trap germs that enter the body, they sometimes temporarily become enlarged as they try to fight off an infection. Enlarged tonsils without any symptoms are common in children, but sometimes adenoids and tonsils can get infected and become painful.
Some children may have larger than average tonsils and adenoids, which partially block his or her airway. This can make it difficult for them to breathe through their nose. As a result, your child may breathe through their mouth and snore loudly when asleep. This can lead to a condition called sleep apnea, where your child stops breathing for a couple of seconds while asleep and then starts again. This can severely disturb their sleep. There can also be a link between large tonsils and adenoids and long-term middle ear infections which can affect your child's hearing.
At Valley ENT we offer several treatments to help your child feel better as soon as possible. These may include medications to relieve immediate symptoms or treat infection. If your child's tonsils and adenoids get infected a lot or are causing other problems, we may discuss with you if they should be surgically removed in an operation that takes about 20 minutes.
We hope you choose Valley ENT to care for your child but whoever you choose we strongly recommend you find an ENT physician who relates well to both you and your child. No one knows your child as well as you do and at Valley ENT we believe you and your child deserve a physician who will listen and take time to fully explain your child's problem and the your various treatment options.
Children are not simply "little adults". They're physically different. Different enough to come down with diseases adults just don't get. Illnesses, symptoms, appropriate medications, and treatments are all influenced by the age and size of your child. Treating children requires specific medical knowledge and equipment.
The information on this site is intended to help provide a general understanding only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment recommendations made individually for your child. Please consult our providers at Valley ENT, or your primary care provider, with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your child's condition.