Tonsils and Adenoids

img_04981.jpgThe tonsils and adenoids are part of the lymphatic system. They work with the immune system and help the body fight infection by trapping germs that come in through the mouth and nose, but they can also become a source of chronic infection themselves. In some cases, removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) and adenoids (adenoidectomy) may be necessary in order to prevent infection and improve breathing in children and adults.

Dr. Wallace is an expert in the evaluation and surgical treatment of the tonsils and adenoids. He helps patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options, and he offers the newest techniques and procedures.


The tonsils are a pair of tissue masses found on either side of the back of the throat. They help fight infections, but they can sometimes become infected by viruses or bacteria, resulting in tonsillitis.

Other common conditions that affect the tonsils include:

  • Enlarged tonsils: The tonsils can swell up as a result of a virus or bacteria; and the swelling generally goes down over time. In some cases, however, swelling can be so severe that it makes it difficult to breathe or swallow. In these instances, tonsillectomy is usually required.

  • Acute mononucleosis: Mono is a viral infection that causes swelling in the tonsils, fever, sore throat, and fatigue. It usually goes away on its own, but in some cases corticosteroids are necessary to reduce swelling.

  • Streptococcus: Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects the throat and tonsils, causing them to become irritated and inflamed. Common symptoms include sore throat, fever, and pain when swallowing.

  • Tonsilloliths: Tonsil stones are formed when trapped bacteria and debris in the tonsils hardens. They are most common in people that suffer from chronic inflammation in the tonsils.

Treatments for different tonsil-related conditions can range from anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics to surgeries such as tonsillectomy.


The adenoids are a mass of lymphatic tissue found behind the nose and just above the tonsils. Together with the tonsils, the adenoids help fight infections in the nose and throat. However, similar to the tonsils, the adenoids can also become part of the infection. When this happens, it is referred to as adenoiditis. In some cases, the adenoids can also become enlarged, blocking the airway passage behind the nose. This can make it difficult for patients to breathe through their mouth, and it can even make them snore loudly when they sleep. Enlarged adenoids often lead to ear infections due to the tube that connects the ear to the throat being obstructed. For patients that suffer from frequent ear infections due to swollen adenoids – as well as for those with ongoing breathing problems – adenoidectomy (removal of the adenoids) is often recommended. Dr. Wallace will discuss the best treatment option for you or your child.