May also be called: Enlarged Tonsils
Tonsillar hypertrophy, or enlarged tonsils, can be caused by an ongoing (chronic) condition or be a temporary effect of an infection.
Tonsils are small glands on either side of the back part of the throat. Their main job is to help stop bacteria from getting farther down the throat.
Enlarged tonsils can be an ongoing (chronic) condition or a temporary effect of an infection. Doctors aren't sure what causes chronically enlarged tonsils, but secondhand tobacco smoke and air pollution can make them larger.
If the tonsils are very large, a person may snore or have trouble swallowing certain foods. Some people with enlarged tonsils have obstructive sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep) because the tonsils partially block the airway. A test done overnight in the hospital — called a sleep study — can help determine if someone has sleep apnea by looking for these pauses.
Tonsils enlarged from an infection usually return to a normal size when the infection gets better. Chronically enlarged tonsils may also shrink as kids get older.
Enlarged tonsils are common. Treatment depends on the size of the tonsils and whether they interfere with eating, sleeping, or breathing. Most of the time treatment is not necessary. But sometimes, the doctor might recommend a medicine to shrink the tonsils or surgery to remove them (a tonsillectomy). Occasionally, someone with sleep apnea may need to wear a special mask at night that helps with breathing.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|National Institutes of Health (NIH) NIH is an Agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and offers health information and scientific resources.|
|American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) The ASAA is dedicated to reducing injury, disability, and death from sleep apnea and to enhancing the well-being of those affected by this common disorder.|
|Enlarged Adenoids Often, tonsils and adenoids are surgically removed at the same time. So, what are adenoids exactly?|
|Strep Throat Strep throat is a common infection that usually needs to be treated with antibiotics. Find out how to recognize the signs of strep throat and what to expect if you have it.|
|Tonsillitis Tonsillitis, an inflammation of the tonsils caused by an infection, causes sore throat, fever, swollen glands in the neck, and trouble swallowing.|
|Peritonsillar Abscess A peritonsillar abscess is an area of pus-filled tissue at the back of the mouth, next to one of the tonsils. Find out how it happens and what to do.|
|Mononucleosis Mononucleosis - or "mono" - is an infection that produces flu-like symptoms, and usually goes away on its own in a few weeks with the help of plenty of fluids and rest.|
|Tonsils and Tonsillectomies Everybody's heard of tonsils, but not everyone knows what tonsils do in the body or why they may need to be removed. Find out here.|
|Tonsils and Tonsillectomies Not everyone knows what tonsils do or why they may need to be removed. Knowing the facts can help alleviate the fears of both parents and kids facing a tonsillectomy.|
|Peritonsillar Abscess Older kids and teens with tonsilitis sometimes develop this painful abscess, a pus-filled tissue at the back of the mouth.|
|What's Mono? Kissing is just one of the ways that someone can spread mononucleosis. Most people who get mono are between the ages of 15 and 25, but younger kids can get it, too.|
|Tonsillitis You wake up and your throat is swollen and you have a fever. Could it be tonsillitis? Find out what tonsillitis is, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.|
|Tonsillitis If your tonsils get infected, it can make your throat feel very sore. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Enlarged Adenoids Often, tonsils and adenoids are surgically removed at the same time. Though some kids need surgery, enlarged adenoids are normal in others.|
|Mononucleosis It's sometimes called "the kissing disease," but kissing is just one of the ways that someone can catch mono.|
|Strep Throat Strep throat is a common cause of sore throat in kids and teens. It usually requires treatment with antibiotics, but improves in a few days.|
|The Scoop on Strep Throat Strep throat gives you a sore throat and makes it hard to swallow. Find out more in this article for kids.|
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