Tonsillitis and Tonsillar Hypertrophy

The tonsils are masses of lymphoid tissue on each side of the back of the throat. In order to see them, your physician can look through your mouth.

The tonsils are lymphoid tissue similar to a lymph node. Like a lymph node it contains cells that help to fight infection and can swell in response to that infection. The tonsils are a part of a ring-shaped group of lymph node type tissue found around the back of the throat that includes the tonsils, adenoids, and tissue at the back of the tongue (known as Waldeyer's ring). Together, they act to help process infections in the nose and throat.


Unfortunately, sometimes the tonsils get infected and the infection can either be recurrent (happening over and over) or last for weeks or months (chronic). Symptoms of tonsillitis may include sore throat, trouble swallowing, earache, fever, enlarged neck lymph nodes, and headache. Usually tonsillitis responds to antibiotics taken by mouth. If antibiotics fail to get rid of the infection or the infections continue to recur, the tonsils may have to be removed.

Tonsillar Hypertrophy

In most children, the tonsils do enlarge some normally during childhood, when infections of the nose and throat are most common. They usually shrink as the child gets older and continue to shrink into adulthood. However, in some children, the tonsils continue to become larger and block the throat's swallowing and breathing passage. Symptoms may include heavy snoring, stopping breathing or gasping for air at night, trouble swallowing foods, or a "hot potato" voice. When the tonsils become enlarged and cause symptoms they sometimes have to be removed.

Please also read about tonsillectomy and tonsillectomy post-op page.

Common ENT Problems

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Surgeries We Perform

  • Adenoidectomy

    An adenoidectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove the enlarged (hypertrophied) or chronically infected adenoids. Depending Read More
  • Laryngoscopy

    Laryngoscopy is an examination that lets your doctor look at the back of your throat, your voice Read More
  • Septoplasty

    The septum of the nose is a wall made of cartilage and bone that divides the two Read More
  • Tonsillectomy

    Removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) for tonsillitis or tonsillar hypertrophy (enlargement) is one of the most common Read More
  • Tympanostomy Tubes

    Tympanostomy tubes are known by many names including ventilation tubes, myringotomy tubes, ear tubes, and pressure equalization Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Post-Operative Instructions

  • Adenoidectomy

    General Information: Adenoidectomy is the removal of the adenoid pad. The adenoids are tissue located behind the Read More
  • Facelifts

    Please follow these instructions carefully. Your final result will depend upon how well you care for the Read More
  • Rhinoplasty

    Week 1 (Beginning the day after surgery): You SHOULD: Keep the splint as dry as possible. Call Read More
  • Tympanoplasty

    Definition/Explanation: Tympanoplasty is a type of ear surgery. This surgery is designed to rebuild the eardrum and Read More
  • Blepharoplasty

    Please follow these instructions carefully. Your final result will depend upon how well you care for the Read More
  • 1
  • 2

More Links

  • Hospital Affiliations
  • Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery
  • Allergy & Sinus
  • Balance
  • Hearing Loss and Ear Disorders
  • Head and Neck Cancer
  • Pediatric Otolaryngology
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Thyroid