The tonsils and adenoids may enlarge (become bigger) because of an infection or other cause or maybe large at birth. Enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids is common among children and typically does not need any treatment.
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids in children may result from infections but may be normal.
Tonsils and adenoids are collections of lymphoid tissue that may have a role in helping the body fight infection. They trap bacteria and viruses entering through the throat and produce antibodies. The tonsils and adenoids are the largest in children who are 2 to 6 years of age.
This usually causes no symptoms but can occasionally cause difficulty breathing or swallowing and sometimes recurring ear or sinus infections or obstructive sleep apnea.
If they think the cause is allergies, doctors may give a nasal corticosteroid spray or other drugs, such as antihistamines, by mouth. If the cause appears to be a bacterial infection, doctors may give antibiotics.
If these drugs are not effective or if doctors think they will not be useful, doctors may recommend surgical removal of the adenoids (called adenoidectomy) and possibly removal of the tonsils (called tonsillectomy) during the same operation.
Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are very common operations for children in the United States. Children who benefit from these operations include those who have the following:
Doctors may recommend only adenoidectomy for children who have the following: