Tonsils & Adenoids - What you should know

Many children experience enlarged tonsils and adenoids but what are they and why does it matter?

Adenoids are located just behind the nose. They peak in growth at 5-6 years of age, and are typically absent by adulthood. Tonsils are located at the back of the throat and tend to peak in growth at 6-8 years of age. The main purpose of adenoids and tonsils is to protect us from infection, however, it can be common for them to become enlarged, especially in childhood.

If persistent enlarged tonsils and adenoids are left untreated, it can lead to difficulties with sleep, feeding and speech development; as well as contribute to middle ear and respiratory tract infections. 

Some signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate enlarged tonsils/adenoids in your child are:

  • They are not as well rested and are often tired during the day;
  • They snore or breathe through mouth during sleep;
  • They breathe through their mouth when eating. They may even do a few chews and then gasp for air;
  • They gag a lot when eating;
  • They have a preference for soft, slippery, easy to swallow foods;
  • They chew foods at the front of their mouth;
  • They have a persistent lisp (their tongue pokes through the front teeth when they are making sounds like ‘s’, which ends up sounding more like ‘th’);
  • They tend to have an open mouth position most of the time;

Please note - this is not an exhaustive list of signs and symptoms that you might see in the presence of enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids, nor do the symptoms listed ALWAYS indicate enlargement of these structures.  

If you are concerned, consult your GP and ask about a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT). 



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