Your tonsils are 2 pockets of tissue in the back of the throat. You can see yours with the help of a flashlight, and if you suffer from enlarged tonsils, you can probably see them easier than you’d like. Our tonsils play an important roll in our immune system, fighting off infection. But chronically enlarged tonsils can be uncomfortable and signal a bigger problem.
What causes enlarged tonsils?
The tonsils trap germs and stop them from entering the airway. This is good for the body, but makes them susceptible to infection. Enlarged, inflamed tonsils can be a sign that the tonsils themselves are infected during a condition called tonsillitis. The condition is common among children, but can occur at any age. If you have enlarged tonsils, you ‘ll likely experience other symptoms like sore throat, headache, swollen glands, and bad breath.
Testing for tonsillitis
The first step to treating enlarged tonsils is to determine the type of infection causing them. This is typically done using a swab of the back of the throat. If the test is positive for bacteria, an antibiotic will be prescribed to fight the infection. However, if the test is negative for bacteria, a viral infection can be assumed. In the event of a viral infection, the body must fight the infection on its own. You can help by making sure you get plenty of rest and fluids.
When to consider a tonsillectomy
If tonsillitis continues to come back or if your tonsils are enlarged enough to block the airway, a tonsillectomy may be recommended. A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. This is an outpatient procedure that can be completed in about 30 minutes. There are some benefits and drawbacks to this treatment option, which should be discussed with an ENT specialist.
To learn more about enlarged tonsils and their treatment, contact our office and schedule a consultation with one of our board certified ENT specialists at AOO.