Dr. Hector N. Hernandez, M.D., P.A.
Dr. Hector N. Hernandez, M.D., P.A. Dr. Hector N. Hernandez, M.D., P.A.
Dr. Hector N. Hernandez, M.D., P.A.
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A Guide to Your Child's Tonsils & Adenoids

by Hector N. Hernandez, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Tonsils and adenoids are composed of glandular tissue and are found in the throat. The tonsils are two reddish-pink masses located on each side of the back of the throat. Adenoids are found behind the nose and the roof of the mouth. They are not readily visible without the aid of an instrument such as a dental mirror, fiber-optic scope, or x-rays.
Tonsils and adenoids are both located near the breathing passages where they are believed to assist the body in fighting bacteria and viruses by catching infections and then helping to produce antibodies to ward them off. This germ-fighting function is helpful to very young children. However, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, this function becomes less important as children get older, with possibly no importance at all after the age of three. Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children are NOT more likely to get infections after having their tonsils and adenoids removed.
Infections and Sore Throats Common
Children commonly face two problems with their tonsils and/or adenoids. First, children may suffer from repeated infections which can lead to sore throats. Such recurrent infections in the tonsils and adenoids can also produce ear troubles. If, for example, these chronic infections affect the nearby Eustachian tube (between the inside of the ear and the back of the nose), the child may succumb to recurrent ear infections, earaches, and hearing loss.
If the tonsil and adenoid infections are believed to be bacterial (e.g., "strep throat"), your physician will likely prescribe antibiotics. If antibiotics are not effective, your doctor may recommend removal. "T & A," which stands for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, is one of the most common operations performed for children. General anesthesia is required; therefore, the child does not suffer discomfort during the surgery. Patients can often be released after just 4 to 8 hours of recovery, although they are sometimes kept in the hospital overnight. Parents should let their children know that for a few days after the operation, they will have a sore throat.
Enlargement May Bring on Breathing Difficulties
The second tonsil/adenoid problem commonly faced by children is difficulty breathing and swallowing due to significant enlargement. When the adenoids or tonsils obstruct the child's breathing, snoring may result as well as sleep interruption. In addition, a child who has difficulty in breathing through his nose due to enlargement will, of course, engage in mouth breathing. According to some orthodontists, when mouth breathing is chronic, the child may ultimately suffer from misaligned teeth and face malformations.
Sometimes tonsil and adenoid enlargement subsides on its own. When adenoids are enlarged due to allergies, it is also possible that treatment of the allergy attacks will lead to their reduction in size over time. Generally, however, when the tonsil/adenoid enlargement is significant and/or persistent despite medical therapy, your doctor will likely recommend surgery (a tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy, as noted above).

Symptoms of Enlarged Adenoids

Since they are not as plainly visible as tonsils, it is more difficult to tell when your child has enlarged adenoids. Here are some questions that can help you spot this problem:
  1. Does your child's nose sound blocked when he talks?
  2. Does your child complain it is hard to breathe through his nose, or does he usually breathe through his mouth?
  3. Does your child breathe noisily during the day and then snore at night?
  4. Does your child suffer from "sleep apnea" (at night, while sleeping and either snoring or breathing loudly, his breathing stops momentarily)?

Does Your Child Have Tonsillitis?

Watch for these symptoms and report them to your doctor:
  • Child has sore throat accompanied by fever
  • Bad breath
  • Tonsils covered with a yellow or white coating
  • Swollen neck glands (i.e., lymph nodes)
  • Pain or discomfort when swallowing
  • Slight voice changes



Hector N. Hernandez, M.D., P.A.
Medicare Assignment Accepted - New Patients Welcome
21297-A Olean Boulevard Port Charlotte, Florida 33952  Phone: 941-764-0660


Please read our disclaimer. Any information provided on this Web site should not be considered medical advice or a substitute for a consultation with Dr. Hector N. Hernandez or other healthcare professional. If you have a medical problem, contact us for diagnosis and treatment.

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