The Basics of Tonsils and Adenoids from a Little Rock ENT

Tonsils and adenoids are the body’s first line of defense as part of the immune system. They “sample” bacteria and viruses entering the body through the mouth or nose, but they sometimes become infected. Sometimes, they become more of a liability than an asset and may even cause airway obstruction or repeated bacterial infections. The ear, nose, and throat specialists (ENT) at Arkansas Otolaryngology Center can suggest the best treatment options. Our ENTs in Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Benton explain tonsils and adenoids, and what affects their health.

What are tonsils and adenoids? Tonsils and adenoids are similar to the lymph nodes or “glands” found in the neck, groin, and armpits. Tonsils are the two round lumps in the back of the throat. Adenoids are high in the throat behind the nose and the roof of the mouth (soft palate) and are not visible through the mouth or nose without special instruments.

What affects tonsils and adenoids? The two most common problems affecting the tonsils and adenoids are recurrent infections of the nose and throat, and significant enlargement that causes nasal obstruction and/or breathing, swallowing, and sleep problems.

Abscesses around the tonsils, chronic tonsillitis, and infections of small pockets within the tonsils that produce foul-smelling white deposits can also affect the tonsils and adenoids, making them sore and swollen. Cancers of the tonsil, while uncommon, require early diagnosis and aggressive treatment.

When should I see a doctor? You should see your doctor when you or your child experience the common symptoms of infected or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Your physician will ask about problems of the ear, nose, and throat and examine the head and neck. He or she may use a small mirror or a flexible lighted instrument to see these areas. There are lots of other methods for checking the tonsils and adenoids, based on the severity of the issues.

Your otolaryngologist/ENT will determine what testing and actions need to be taken. For throat issues, including tonsils and adenoids, schedule an appointment with the ENTs at Arkansas Otolaryngology Center.