Tonsil and Adenoid Problems

Recurrent Acute Tonsillitis

Acute tonsillitis is a viral or bacterial infection of the tonsils, typical symptoms include fever sore throat, lethargy and often difficulty eating. Pus is usually visible on the tonsils and often lymph nodes in the neck are enlarged. Treatment is generally analgesia and antibiotics. Typically sufferers are completely asymptomatic between episodes.

If there are frequent episodes or the episodes are severe, particularly requiring hospitalisation, then surgery is appropriate. 

Chronic Tonsillitis

This is a form of low-grade chronic tonsil infection. It is more common in older children and adults and often occurs as a result of previous glandular fever or other significant viral illness.

Symptoms are less severe but ever present and include low-grade lateral sore throat, bad breath and production tonsil stones. This occurs because the normal pits in the tonsils lose the ability to self-clean. Debris and bits of food collect in the pits and develop low-grade infection resulting in the production of foul smelling yellow tonsil stones (tonsiloliths).

The only effective treatment is to remove the tonsils.


Quinsy is an abscess that develops deep to the tonsil. It is usually quite a severe infection and often requires drainage and hospitalisation. If a person has two or more episodes then tonsillectomy is usually advised.

Adenoid Issues

The adenoid is a collection of lymphoid tissue very similar to the tonsils that is located at the back of the nose above the soft palate. It is not visible looking in the mouth. Generally the adenoid problems occur in the under 10 year old age group. They usually have disappeared by the late teens. Enlarged and/or chronically infected adenoids may lead to:

  • Blocked or persistently runny nose
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Middle ear effusions
  • Snoring and sleep apnoea.

Treatment of these problems may require adenoidectomy


Surgical Treatment