You may rarely think about your tonsils, but these soft-tissue masses located in the back of your throat are rather important, as they are the first defense your body has to protect you from infection. While you can see your tonsils when you open your mouth, the adenoids will not be visible (they are nestled behind the nasal cavity); however, adenoids also play a crucial role in your immune health. White blood cells are floating throughout the adenoids, ready to attack bacteria that want to infect the body.

Of course, even tonsils and adenoids can develop infections. After all, they are the first line of defense, so it seems only natural that sometimes they can’t tackle all these issues. Some of the most common problems include enlarged tonsils and adenoids, which can make it difficult to properly swallow or breath if it’s bad enough, and infections of the tonsils and adenoids.

Chances are good that you’ve heard of tonsillitis, an infection that can lead to some rather unpleasant symptoms such as a sore throat, red swollen tonsils, a white coating over the tonsils, fever and bad breath. With tonsillitis, you’ll find it very painful and possibly even difficult to swallow.

If you or your child is dealing with a severe sore throat or swollen tonsils/adenoids, it’s a good idea to visit an otolaryngologist for proper care. An ENT doctor can examine your nasal passages and throat to determine if you are dealing with tonsillitis or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. In some scenarios, the doctor may need to swab the throat and take a sample to test for strep throat or other infections. Blood or imaging tests may also be necessary.

How do you know when you are dealing with enlarged tonsils and adenoids? You may start suddenly start snoring in your sleep when you normally don’t, or you may feel as if one side of your nose is completely stuffed up or blocked. Conversely, you may end up dealing with a persistently runny nose. This condition can also increase your chances of developing sleep apnea.

If your ENT doctor has discovered that your inflamed tonsils or adenoids are due to a bacterial infection, then antibiotics will be the best course of action for treating the issue. Only in severe cases where you are dealing with chronic infections, sleep apnea or other serious health complications will a medical professional recommend removing the tonsils or adenoids altogether.

If you are dealing with a sore throat or enlarged tonsils and desperately need relief, don’t hesitate to turn to your otolaryngologist for the care you need.