More Than A Mound

When tonsils come up in conversation, many think about the little mounds at the back of the mouth. Some believe the tonsils serve no purpose. However, there is more than meets the eye. Tonsils are lymph nodes that form part of the lymphatic system. Each set picks up viruses and bacteria that enter the nose and throat. Sometimes, the tonsils struggle to fight bacteria. As a result, these nodes become inflamed, creating tonsillitis. This condition is more common in children but can occur in adults as well.

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The types of tonsils you should be aware of

Tonsillitis mainly happens to the palatine tonsils and adenoids. The palatine tonsils are the pair at the back of the mouth on both sides of the tongue. A little further, the adenoids sit near the nasal cavity. Tonsils and adenoids are big in toddlers and shrink with age. Most cases of tonsilitis happen in children. Adults, however, can still get tonsillitis. The reasons may include a compromised immune system or certain viruses and bacteria like strep throat bacteria.

Symptoms and treatment

Adults with tonsillitis get a sore throat, loss of appetite, fever, and bad breath. In some cases, adults will feel earaches, headaches, and even experience sleep apnea. Tonsillitis can be acute or chronic. In both cases, see a doctor immediately. In mild to moderate cases, the doctor will recommend rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medication. These sensitive cases usually clear up with treatment at home. Chronic cases, however, may need further treatment, including antibiotics. If these treatment methods fail and tonsillitis keeps occurring, the doctor will turn to surgery.

Time to let go

Rest assured, a doctor will try all non-surgical procedures first to treat the condition. However, surgery is the best for chronic cases that happen multiple times a year. A tonsillectomy removes the tonsils at the back of the mouth. An adenoidectomy removes the adenoids in the nasal cavity area. Both procedures use the same process. In some cases, the doctor will choose to remove both tonsils and adenoids.

One procedure, two names

Tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies are short, outpatient procedures. The patient is placed under general anesthesia. The surgeon then uses a device to keep the mouth open. Small tools help the surgeon remove the tonsils either via a scalpel or heat. For a tonsillectomy, the palatine tonsils get removed. For an adenoidectomy, the surgeon will remove the adenoids. If the patient needs both removed, the surgeon will remove these one at a time. Afterward, the patient spends a short time in recovery before being discharged. Home recovery consists of rest and plenty of liquids. There are mixed opinions about the effectiveness of surgery. Yet, many patients find a significant improvement in pain and quality of life.

Get the right tonsil care today

Tonsillitis can be a painful, uncomfortable experience. Either the palatine tonsils or the adenoids can be the cause, and both need the same treatment. While adults rarely get tonsillitis, if the issue pops up, take immediate action. Take the proper rest and medication. If tonsillitis continues to affect the quality of life, consider a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy. The doctor can remove either lymph node, using the same procedure, safely. For more information, speak with a ENT surgeon or healthcare provider.