Back to Knowledge Center Results

Tonsil and Adenoid Pain

​​​​​​​​Tonsils and adenoids are masses of tissue that help defend the immune system from infections. Both protect against viral and bacterial infections by catching and trapping incoming germs through the mouth and nose. Tonsils are located in the back of the throat and ade​noids are located directly behind the nose. They can become infected by viruses and bacteria causing a sore throat and post nasal drainage. ​

Signs of Adenoid or Tonsil Problems

  • Enlarged or swollen tonsils and adenoids are more common in children. Parents may see problems with sleep apnea, such as snoring and restlessness during sleep, nasal congestion causing mouth breathing. 
  • Adenoid enlargement can be associated with chronic ear infections. Patients may have recurrent Tonsillitis or strep throat.
  • Adults who suffer from infections are more likely to have a chronic infection such as constant soreness of the throat or debris that builds up in the tonsil crypts.


  • Viral infections are treated with lots of fluid and rest.
  • Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.
  • Antihistamines in a liquid, pill or nasal steroid sprays can be used when inflammation occurs due to an allergy component.

Tonsillectomy or Adenoidectomy

The surgery procedures are called tonsillectomy​ or adenoidectomy – which removes the tonsils or adenoids. Below are two main reasons to consider before getting surgery.

  • Enlargement. When the tonsils and adenoids are causing obstructive symptoms that are causing significant problems such as difficulty swallowing, trouble gaining weight, snoring, not getting quality sleep, leading to behavior issues and difficulty concentrating in school, etc.
  • Recurrent or chronic infections. An individual is suffering from infections often and antibiotics are not working.

Consult our Boys Town Ear, Nose and Throat clinic locations to talk to an otolaryngologist specialist if you or your child is experiencing problems related to tonsils and adenoids.

  • Tonsils and Adenoids

    David H. Sjulin, M.D.

    Tonsils and adenoids are lymphatic tissue located in the back of the throat along the sides for the tonsils and directly behind the nose and the nasal pharynx.

    What conditions affect the tonsils and adenoids?

    The most common that people are familiar with are viral infections and bacterial infections of the tonsils and the adenoids. But many times they are bothered by post nasal drainage from congestion, either viral or allergy involving the nose.

    What are some symptoms of enlarged tonsils and adenoids?

    It is much more common in children that we will see obstruction due to tonsil and adenoid enlargement. Parents will see snoring, nasal obstruction with mouth breathing, and certainly kids are more prone to recurrent to​nsillitis and strep. Adults definitely do have problems. Theirs are more a chronic infection, low grade infection that just won’t go away with chronic soreness.

    How are tonsil and adenoid conditions treated?

    Viral infections are going to be treated with supportive care, lots of fluid, rest, and multivitamins. Bacterial infections such as strep which everyone is familiar with is going to be treated with antibiotics. If the inflammation of the tonsils is due to allergic drainage from the back of the nose, then generally antihistamines in a liquid or pill form and then nasal steroid sprays.

    When is it time to remove the tonsils and adenoids?

    Generally we will take tonsils out for two main reasons. If the tonsils are enlarged enough that they are causing obstructive symptoms that are significant, either difficulty swallowing meats and trouble gaining weight, they could be so enlarged that the child is snoring and not getting quality sleep and that can lead to behavior issues and difficulty learning in the classroom; and then recurrent strep infections or viral infections of the tonsils. If that’s happening too often and they are spending too many times on antibiotics, it can decrease their health and become enough of a problem that we need to remove them.

Ear, Nose and Throat