Q: If You Need Your Tonsils, Why Take Them Out?

September 25, 2008

A: Tonsils are part of the immune system, but when they are too large or are prone to frequent infections, then surgical removal is a consideration. One or two infections every year is not too worrisome, but having an infection every month can be debilitating for most people. For many children (and some adults), very large tonsils can lead to breathing problems at night. 


More Questions About Tonsils

Q: What are tonsils? 

A: Tonsils are paired lymphoid or glandular tissues that sit on the side-walls of your throat just behind your tongue. They are part of a complete circle of lymphoid tissues that is involved in programming your immune system what is foreign and what is self. The adenoids sit in the mid-line at the back of your nose and the lingual tonsils are also in the mid-line at the rear of the tongue, just above the voice box. They are most active from ages 3-5, and this is the time that most problems arise. 

Q: Do you need tonsils? 

A: Yes, especially when you have an infection. Most of the immune system programming occurs in early childhood. As you get older, the tonsil shrink to a much smaller size in adulthood. However, if there is chronic irritation, such as from allergies, colds or acid reflux, they can remain enlarged. Tonsils and adenoids are only a small part of a much larger system of lymph glands and immune mechanisms. 

Q: What happens if my tonsils are too big? 

A: Just because your tonsils are big does not mean they have to be removed. If you have no problems, then with time, they should shrink. But if you have signs or symptoms of a sleep-breathing disorder, such as daytime fatigue, poor concentration, memory problems, attention problems, asthma, cough, nasal congestion, or snoring, then they should be looked at by an ear, nose and throat physician. Sometimes I see young children who snore heavily, with severe asthma, attention and behavioral problems, and who are on Ritalin for ADHD. On exam they are found to have very large “kissing” tonsils. Due to the prevalent myths about tonsils and surgery, the parents refuse any form of surgical therapy. They would rather treat the end result of their child’s sleep-breathing problem (asthma, ADHD) with long-term medications, when surgery could be curative. On the flip side, there are also too many people with tonsils that are taken to the operating room prematurely, with no clinical reasoning whatsoever. 

Q: Can large tonsils cause snoring? 

A: Yes. Anything that narrows the upper airway, from the nose to the voice box, can cause snoring or other breathing problems. In children, large tonsils are a common cause of snoring. Snoring itself in children has been linked to behavioral, memory and concentration problems, asthma, and chronic cough. A significant number of children (and adults) who snore are also found to have obstructive sleep apnea, which can lead to fatigue, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease and many other conditions. It’s also associated with sexual dysfunction and frequent urination at night. 

Q: Doesn’t undergoing a tonsillectomy hurt? 

A: Yes. But with advances in technology, it doesn’t hurt as much. Traditional tonsillectomy using an electrocautery device will leave you with a very sore throat for 4-7 days. You’ll be on soft or liquid diet until the pain subsides, after which you slowly progress to foods of more solid consistency. The best part is that you can eat lots of ice cream. With newer techniques (such as the Coblator) you’ll have only 2-5 days of pain, with some people not taking any pain medications at all. 

Q: What are the potential complications of tonsillectomy? 

A:  As with any operation, there’s always a very small chance of bleeding or infection. If it occurs, then it will be addressed appropriately. Specific to the procedure, there is a small chance that you may have persistent symptoms even after surgery. There are many reasons for this, including not taking enough tonsil tissues out, or it may be due to something entirely different. Two common reasons include post-nasal drip and laryngopharyngeal reflux disease. There’s also a very small risk to general of complications from anesthesia is lower than being hit by a car.


To ask Dr. Park a question, click here.

73 Responses to “Q: If You Need Your Tonsils, Why Take Them Out?”

  1. Pari Anderson on November 25th, 2008 2:32 am

    Dr. Park,

    I’ve been reading your articles and have been amazed at everything I learned!

    I can’t understand why these issues aren’t more aggressively pursued.

    I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Chiari Malformation I. I can’t find many Doctors that are able to look at the body as a whole and treat my myriad of symptoms by beginning at the root of the problems.

    It would be wonderful if you would be able to help me…?

    The laxity in my joints makes my neck so loose that it turns too far when I am sleeping, causing a lot of pain when I wake up.

    My jaw also hangs so loosely that it causes terrible TMJ problems. Sometimes I will flex my jaw while I sleep so that it won’t fall to the side, then I wake with horrible jaw and neck pain.

    My tongue is huge and my jaw is small. I never thought of how that could affect sleep!!

    My kids also have the same problems. My 8 year old still wets the bed and my 20 year old didn’t stop until he was 16.

    They both take awhile to wake up fully, but fall asleep easily AND they both sleep with fans in their face. I noticed that when my 8 year old doesn’t have a breeze on her face she grunts, moans and kicks even more frequently through the night. (I thought maybe it worked like a CPAP affect?)

    Well, if this is too long, could you maybe just explain any Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – related sleep issues?

    Thank you,
    Pari Anderson

  2. Steven Park on November 25th, 2008 11:59 am

    Ms. Anderson,

    Sorry to hear about all your troubles. As far as I know, there isn’t any known strong associations between EDS, CM and obstructive sleep apnea. But micrognathia (small jaws) is described in one subtype of EDS. All these conditions can also overlap with other connective tissue disorders, including Pierre Robin sequence (very underdeveloped jaws). If you haven’t done so already, you may benefit from undergoing a formal sleep study, to more definitively assess your sleep quality as well as how many times you stop breathing every hour. Even if you don’t have EDS and CM, a sleep-breathig problem can cause or aggravate many of the symptoms that you’ve described.

    Unfortunately, it sounds like your children may have similar issues. Bedwetting is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, especially in children.

    There’s nothing you can do about your anatomy (actually, there is, but you’re not going to like it, and doctors will be reluctant to offer it to you). But what you can change is how well you breathe at night.

    I doubt the fan is acting like a CPAP machine—it’s probably more related to temperature regulation. You need to be cooler when sleeping.

    Hope this is not too confusing. As you may be aware, it’s a complicated situation.

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  4. Illiora Lopez on December 7th, 2008 12:45 am

    My little boy is almost 5 he was diagnosed with ashma when he was about a year old. The past 4 1/2 months his had a prolong uncontroled cough that makes him gag and have like choking epesoded at night. His ben on steroids, antibiotics and albuterol. He was hospitalized for 13 day (discharged 10-15-08) at the Long beach childrens hospital. It was and has been very frustrating because my son looks fine at the time he has Dr. appointments and during the day time at times. His epesodes are at nigh and some of the pulmonary team would tell me that he was fine but I knew he wasent. They ended up duing a broncoscopy which showed them that he had a lot of inflamation in the lungs and they had to clean his lungs as well. Also, he had a number of test done which show that he has large anoids and large tonsils as well. In the process of the broncoscopy a GI dr also di a PH prove and notised that he has a small hernia in his esophogus, (Sorry, Im not sure of the spelling) and the ph prove showes that he also has some reflex. I was also told by the pulmonologist that he has some fatty cells in his lungs. My son was discharged, he was put on steroids, Qvar, albuterol, Nasolnex, singular, preveset and in an antibiotic. Today is December 6th and my son is still the same. Now I’m being told that he will need surgery and that his nosils and anoids will be removed January 6h and he was also change to Advair HPA 2 puffs 2 x a day and he continues the same. His severe cough that comes in goes worries me. He gets better for 2 or 3 day and he suddenly gets severe coughfing epesodes that scare me specialy at night. Im scared about the surgery and I don’t know if this will help him. I would appreciate a few you can advise me if this is the best thing to do or if his uncontrolable cough can cause any other problems for him. My little Christopher will appreciate if you can help his mommy as Im confused and very scared. Thank you for you time and please excuse all my spelling errors.

  5. Steven Park on December 7th, 2008 6:21 am

    Ms. Lopez,

    Based on everything you’ve described, undergoing a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy sounds like a reasonable option. Having very large tonsils and adenoids (especially at this age) can lead to breathing problems at night, leading to acid reflux in the throat, causing inflammation. In children, many ENTs will perform the surgery without undergoing a sleep study to diagnose sleep apnea. If you have any doubts about surgery, you should talk to your doctors about the reason for recommending the surgery. If you’re still not sure, a second opinion with another surgeon is another option. Good luck.

  6. Anissa on December 29th, 2008 12:08 pm

    Dr. Park,

    My son is going to be 4 year old in Jan 2009. I took him to see ENT because his tonsils are huge. The ENT said it has to be removed because it was so big it is touching each other. In my son case, he does not have a lot of infection nor does he has a problem breathing or eating. His tonsils are huge don’t get me wrong, if you look in his mouth you can see that it ia so big it seems like it is on his tongue. He complain about it a couple of times while sleeping but that is it. Should I take him in for 2nd opinion? His surgery date is Jan 6th. He just had his adenoids out 6 months ago and I don’t want him to go through another surgery if he does ot need it.

    Thank you so much,


  7. Steven Y. Park, MD on December 30th, 2008 12:04 pm

    Hi Anissa,

    Was there a discussion to take out the tonsils when he had his adenoids taken out? Yes it’s much bigger surgery taking out tonsils, but he would be a great candidate for a Coblation tonsillecomty where 95% of the tonsils is vaporized, without touching the sidewall of the throat. With this technique, pain is much improved and children eat much quicker. Even though it doesn’t seem to bother him now, they will most likely cause problems later on in life, such as learning or behavioral problems, dental and jaw crowding, depression, high blood pressure. His jaw is probably already somewhat narrowed by now.

    If his tonsils are as big as you say they are, they are most likely causing breathing problems at night while he’s sleeping. Even with my son who had moderate sized tonsils at age 5, I could see a big difference after the surgery.

  8. Abdul Qudoos on January 4th, 2009 2:06 pm

    I m abdul hadi qureshi.
    I m putting here a Question about my brother who is having disease of high blood pressure. He got checked from various doctors at hospital in sukkur,sind,pakistan. None of the doctor has diagnosed the symptoms of high blood pressure. His age is 32. But one doctor said that he is having hight blood pressure due to the TONSILS. He got is VMA test but it was fine. Does TONSILS cause the high blood pressure. PLZ kindly do something.

  9. Steven Park on January 4th, 2009 4:31 pm

    Mr. Qureshi,

    If you brother has large tonsils, one possible condition that can cause high blood pressure is obstructive sleep apnea. Usually it’s not just the tonsils but also the tongue that falls back in deep sleep due to muscle relaxation. If he is tired during the day, no matter how long he sleeps, and whether or not he snores, he may want to consider undergoing an overnight sleep study to see if he has obstructive sleep apnea. This is a common condition that is a very common cause of high blood pressure in young adults.

  10. ale on March 19th, 2009 8:25 pm

    HI :)
    Im 20 years old and since i was little they have told me that my tonsils are to big.
    In recent weeks i feel my ears like plugged and a roaring noice. I went to see a doctor and he told me this is due because of my big tonsils, can this be possible? Can big tonsils bring health problems?

  11. Steven Park on March 19th, 2009 8:31 pm

    Big tonsils can cause a number of health problem from minor ear problems and sinus infections to major problems like obstructive sleep apnea. It’s not only that your tonsils are big, but your jaws are too small.

  12. ale on March 20th, 2009 5:51 pm

    thank you .. I still have some questions
    Can they cause like a certain feeling of fatigue?
    Feeling of muscular pain like in my legs?
    I feel at time like i want to faint or fall is this because of my ears?
    I did a blood test and everything came out normal so i really dont know if what im feeling is just due to the tonsils because the doctor said i had infection on them but i dont have any cough or anything

  13. Steven Y. Park, MD on March 20th, 2009 8:24 pm

    Not breathing intermittently while sleeping is a good reason for you to be tired during the day. If this is happening long-term, then other neuromuscular problems can occur. Your involuntary nervous system, which regulates blood pressure, will also be affected. No blood test is going to show up anything. It’s not an infection or a biochemical problem. It’s an anatomic problem. Your tonsils are staying enlarged because of your sleep-breathing problem.

    Although taking out huge tonsils is generally a good idea if you are symptomatic, don’t count on it completely curing all your problems. Bu definition, you’ll still have remaining small jaws, by definition.

  14. anne on April 2nd, 2009 11:54 am

    can you still get tonsillitis if you have had them removed

  15. Steven Park on April 6th, 2009 8:18 pm


    Even if you don’t have any tonsils, you can still get an infection of the throat. More often than not, acid reflux is frequently misdiagnosed as a throat infection.

  16. Suma on April 9th, 2009 1:38 pm

    Dr Park,

    My daughter turned 4 in Feb 2009. When she was 3 year old, we found she has some hearing loss, we took her to an ENT, where to our surprise he said she had big tonsils and adenoids, and of course hearing loss, and he advised to have her ear tubes and remove tonsils and adenoids at the same time, we were worried about tonsillectomy and opted only for ear tubes. At her 4 year old appointment her pediatrician told that the tonsils are almost touching each other, But she does not have any symptoms which doctor was refering to. she doesnot have throat infections, her snoring got better now, sometimes at night she rolls back and forth, topsy-turvy, but I dont see any breathing gaps, she is active at school, but she eats very slow, cannot swallow like other kids. Please advice us. we are confused whether to relieve her from tonsils or just leave them and avoid risks associated with surgery.

    Thank You.

  17. Steven Park on April 9th, 2009 2:06 pm


    In the past, I used to advise parents that a tonsillectomy was not necessary if there were no symptoms. But over the years, I’ve seen many studies as well as my own clinical experiences seeing the long-term consequences of upper-airway obstruction. The problem is, children are very resilient. They will accommodate and adjust to almost anything, unless it too severe. Having problems swallowing could be due to having golf-ball sized tonsils. If her tonsils are causing sleep-breathing problems, then it may also affect jaw and dental development, predisposing to sleep-breathing problems later in life.

    Officially, it may be hard to justify taking out tonsils and adenoids in your daughter, but I can tell you from personal experience that taking out my 5 year old son’s moderately enlarged tonsils was well worth it. He wasn’t having any major problems, but what a dramatic improvement afterwards. If there’s any doubt, consider getting a sleep study. If it shows any degree of sleep apnea, it may be justified in going with the surgery.

  18. Suma on April 9th, 2009 2:33 pm

    Dr Park,

    Thank You for your response.
    I heard the risks like bleeding etc are less in big kids compared to smaller kids, and they can manage pain better. Do you think it is better to wait for couple more years until she is 5 or 6, or it doesn’t matter and doing it right away helps her?

  19. Steven Park on April 9th, 2009 2:54 pm

    I don’t want to minimize possible complications, but the risk of bleeding is very small, regardless of the surgeon or age of the patient. There are studies suggesting cognitive delay from untreated sleep apnea, so the earlier the better.

  20. elizabeth on July 21st, 2009 1:20 pm

    wow! thank you for all the info. My son has surgery next month for both tonsils and adnoids.I was very worried about the surgery and even thinking about canceling it. But now after reading everything i feel alot better. And now i see he has almost all the symptoms.

    thank you,elizabeth

  21. Lane on October 20th, 2009 2:43 pm

    Great Blog. I am 27 years old and in the past as a child I had tonsilitis over and over again. My tonsils were supposed to be taken out but something happened with my mother’s insurance and the surgery was canceled. From about 16 to 25 I never got sick anymore! I maybe got the flu one time and was healthy as an ox.

    My tonsils, however, always remained very large. Then I noticed a small clear bump on my left tonsil. I had it checked out, doctor said it was nothing. A year later it was bigger and developed a white head. It kept filling up with pus, then it would burst I think, go away, then be there again over and over. Antibiotics didnt really seem to do anything to solve it.

    The past year now I’ve been getting sick all the time. The bump on my tonsil is now very large and the tonsils are red and angry. Actually it looks like a red vein is on the bump on my tonsil. There are white patches on my soft palate that wont go away (discoloration). I tested positive for Strep B and then got what I think was rhuematic fever (tongue turned white) and experience heart palpitations. (Also: just to be sure, I got an HIV test and I was negative, which is good considering I’m not active) On occassion I could also hear my heart beat in my left ear, and now, seemingly at random, the back top of my throat becomes inflamed and my neck and tonsils ache shortly after.

    I was sent to an ENT and he is going to remove my tonsils next week. He is also going to have the tonsils biospied once they’re removed. I’m very nervous about this because I’ve been healthy for so many years and now I feel like Im falling apart.

    Can bad tonsils really cause all the problems I’ve been having, and do you think the tonsillectomy is a good idea?

    Just nervous, thank you for your time,

  22. Steven Park on October 20th, 2009 6:54 pm

    It sounds like you have recurring cystic infections on one part of your tonsils, which is most likely benign, but it’s part of something else that’s causing your tonsils to become enlarged and inflamed. If they’re that big, then removing them is a good first step. As I mentioned in previous posts, it’s probably aggravating obstructions and arousals, with more stomach juices being suctioned up into your throat, causing more inflammation and swelling. Hopefully, removing your tonsils will get you towards felling better. If not, then there are issues that can be addressed. If you get a chance take a look at my book, which describes my sleep-breathing paradigm, which explains in more detail all the problems that you’re going through. Good luck.

  23. Maurice Singleton on December 24th, 2009 12:58 am

    Q. How long do the doctors put u to sleep for when removing your tonsils because I’m kinda scared I might wake up while there taking my tonsils out..

  24. Maurice Singleton on December 24th, 2009 1:00 am

    Q. What all do u have to go through when getting your tonsils removed

  25. Matt on January 11th, 2010 6:02 pm

    I have a project to do in school and I need a test that proves you need your tonsils.  If you know anything please share ASAP thank you.

  26. Steven Park on January 11th, 2010 6:29 pm

    Matt, what’s the context of your project? Can you be a bit more specific?

  27. Bri on February 22nd, 2010 11:51 am

    I am 21 yrs old and I have been considering getting my tonsils taken out. When I was younger I was always coughing up little white specs (i now know that they are tonsil stones). I went to the doctor he looked at the tonsils of both me and my younger brother. Told me that it wasn't a big deal and that if anyone was going to have an issue it was my brother.  He basically told my mother that I was over exaggerating about my pain levels. 
    I was about 10 at the time. That summer I had a fever of 106. He told my mom that I probably caught something from camp and just gave me some medicine. I kept complaining about my throat and inner ear. He ignored it. Later on he upped my asthma medicine and yes that did get rid of most of the pain but i always had a runny nose (I'm used to it now). Also from then until about age 17, I lost my voice every year going into springtime. In high school again, I had a fever of about 104. I didn't even tell my doctor. By now, I just gave up on him.
    I started with the tonsil stones again when I began college and the school nurse said in plain words. Go to the doctor, get referred, those need to come out. She actually flinched when looking at them. What could have possible been a justifiable reason for my doctor to ignore my initial cries for help? Now I'm not covered for the procedure… what can I do about this? By the way, my brother has never complained about his tonsils.

  28. Steven Park on February 22nd, 2010 12:05 pm


    It sounds like you have significant tonsil issues, and you need to address it definitively. What do you mean that you're not covered for the procedure? Do you not have insurance? It sounds like you may also have a possible sleep-breathing problem, which can cause your tonsils to become large. If this is the case, taking out your tonsils may help you feel better, but it won't take care of the problem completely.

  29. Connie Redmond on March 5th, 2010 10:04 am

    Has anyone ever heard that when you get in your 50's and 60's your tonsils should of dried up and went away and Has anyone heard of problem with the tonsils if they haven't went away.

  30. Charmaine T on March 26th, 2010 7:10 am

    Hi Dr. Park,
    For 2 months in a row (December 2009-January 2010) I've had a sore throat. It went away from February – until now. My tonsils have gotten a lot bigger and it bothers me at night since I can't breathe properly and causes lack of sleep. This problem only began in December of 2009 and my heavy snoring earlier in the year. Will removing the tonsils be the only cure to my snoring and possible sleep apnea? I am seriously considering removing my tonsils, but what are the consequences of removing them? Will I be able to go back to work after 5 days?

  31. Steven Park on March 26th, 2010 7:43 am


    Removing tonsils can help with snoring and sleep apnea sometimes, but usually not completely, since there are other areas of obstruction. You can start with a tonsillectomy and see what happens. If your snoring continues, then a sleep apnea evaluation may be a consideration. Most of my patients are able to go back to work after 5-6 days.

  32. Dean on October 12th, 2010 2:22 am

    Hi Dr. Park,
    Thanks for the informative page! I’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and I just went to an ENT to see about getting a tonsil out. My right tonsil has been uncomfortably large for as long as I can remember (I’m 32). The doctor I went to said she would only take them both out because there’s a chance that if I have the one that troubles me removed the the other one which I’ve never had any problems with could start growing. Does this sound right to you? I’m starting to wonder if my right tonsil has always been large because it doesn’t get any fresh air. I’ve got some deviation of the septum and 95% of my breath comes in the left nostril. I’ve got no insurance so I’m wondering if I should just get my septum corrected and see if a steady flow of oxygen has any effect on my tonsil. Oh, I don’t experience any pain from it. Just a few stones every couple of months or so (probably food), sometimes trouble swallowing, and I think it may be having an impact on my breathing.

    Any thoughts on tonsil reduction would be appreciated too. Some of the doctors I’ve talked to don’t recommend it because they say there’s a good chance of the tonsils growing back to a large size.

  33. Kyla Ribble on November 6th, 2010 4:57 pm

    I am going to be 17 in less than a month and my entire life i have always had huge tonsils. about 2 years ago they started to become cryptic tonsils and my doctor told me that its because they will start to shrink but they haven’t started to shrink. when i was 13 i started to get really bad headaches and when i was younger the same thing happened. when i was 15 my doctor told me that i have TMJ and that it was the cause of my headaches and about last week i was put on imipramine 10mg that im supposed to take an hour before bed. it has helped that i dont wake up with a headache like i used to. before i go to bed each night i have to put a heated thermipaq on my jaw and if i dont i end up with a really bad headache. i heard that people with big tonsils snore alot but i have never snored in my entire life but i did wet the bed until i was about 8 or 9. i have gone to a doctor about getting my tonsils out because they are so big but they said that nothing is wrong with them and i have only had strep throat about 6 or 7 times in my entire life and i have never had tonsilitis and i also didnt have TMJ when i went to the doctor about getting my tonsils out and like i said i have really big tonsils and i was thinking could my big tonsils be putting pressure on my jaw causing my headaches and my TMJ?

    i also get this pain in my back randomly that like pinches really bad and it hurts really bad and i cant move without it hurting but after like 5 minutes it stops hurting and i can move again. it happens about 5 times a week. i dont know if this has anything to do with my tonsils. and i have looked at symptoms of tonsilitis and i think that i might have that but im not sure.

    Can you help? please and thank you

  34. Steven Park on November 7th, 2010 5:17 am


    Sorry to hear about all your health problems. In my experience, cryptic tonsils usually mean that there’s additional inflammation that causes swelling, enlarging the spaces that can trap food particles. I can’t say for sure without examining you, but it does sounds like you may need to address your tonsils. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea is a common reason for bedwetting, TMJ symptoms, neck/back pain, and definitely recurrent tonsillitis. You don’t have to snore or be overweight to have significant obstructive sleep apnea. Having your tonsils taken out may help significantly, but don’t expect any dramatic cures. Ultimately, it’s your entire upper airway that’s narrow due to smaller upper and lower jaws. You may want to have your parents take you to an ENT doctor to look at this issue. Good luck.

  35. Hannah Duckett on May 25th, 2011 9:59 am


    First of all,ignore the website thing.

    I need to know this ASAP!!
    What do I have if I have these symptoms:
    .Sore throat
    .White film in throat
    .NO fever
    .Mild tiredness
    .On the phone,the Dr. says that I MIGHT have Mono,but,they couldn’t get me in.
    Could u please help out?

  36. Carolyn Brown on August 22nd, 2011 3:08 am

    Dr Park,

    Do you perform radio frequency tonsil reduction procedures??

  37. Steven Park on August 22nd, 2011 6:07 am

    Ms. Brown,

    I do perform RF reduction procedures when performed for the right reasons.

  38. Linee keswani on September 23rd, 2011 4:24 am

    I have 1 tonsil larger than the other but it is not giving me any problems
    I used to be a social smoker and could smoke a lot and then got pain in my throat
    I have not smoked for many years and had never been a serious smoker and don’t drink much
    I suffered from tonsillitis as a child and as adult I occasionally get pain in my left tonsil but nut often but should I get pain only on the left tonsil and not my larger right tonsil
    I have seen a few doctors for advice and they said if I am worried I should take it out and if so might as well take both out.

    What is your advice as I have no problems whatsoever except right is bigger than left.


  39. Steven Park on September 25th, 2011 8:46 am


    Just of of curiosity, which side do you sleep on, left or right? If you are a stomach sleeper, which side of your head is down?

  40. Mariana on October 24th, 2011 10:36 pm

    Dr. Park,

    I went to the dr. and they told me that my tonsils were big but nothing that serious, I do have some problems sleeping at night like waking up choking or without being able to breath I do feel tired during the day and wake up during the night and sometimes having trouble going back to sleep I breathe through my mouth instead of my nose and I do snore but my husband says that its only when im laying on my back if I sleep on the side or facing down I dont, do you think I should get surgery or it might be sleep apnea? im scared of surgeries and worry about not waking up

  41. Steven Park on October 24th, 2011 11:00 pm


    You’re probably better off seeing a sleep doctor and diagnosing and treating possible obstructive sleep apnea.

  42. Jaimie on November 2nd, 2011 2:32 am

    Hey Mr. Park,
    first, id like to say i think its really cool of you to have this available for troubled people like us. well anyways, i recently went to go see an ENT doctor and he told me i had tonsilitis, which i already knew through research. then he prescribed to me dexilant and omeprazole and ive been taking them for couple of months now… i see no progress. With tonsilitis, i always feel a dirty nasty feeling in my mouth and my throat is always in pain. I told him, would it help if i remove my tonsils, ive read other websites and they said it is suggested… but my doctor says thats not happening for me and that i should just keep taking those pills… i was VERY upset to hear that. i dont know if hes just scared to perform the surgery. what do you think? should i be removing them or is he right?

  43. Steven Park on November 2nd, 2011 7:30 am


    There’s no guarantee that removing your tonsils will help your symptoms, but you won’t know until you try. You can argue that it’s better than taking medications for months or years. Even if your symptoms don’t improve after surgery, at least you’ll know it’s not a tonsil problem and you can go on to looking for another condition. ENTs can have very different opinions about tonsillectomy. Another ENT may offer to perform the surgery. Good luck.

  44. Devin on January 25th, 2012 9:28 am

    Dr. Park,

    I’ve just had my tonsils removed due to having strep throat and other related illnesses way too commonly each year. I had my tonsils removed five days ago and it seems as if my throat is becoming more and more sore. It’s easier to eat and talk for longer periods, but when the pain comes around it seems worse then it was right after surgery.

  45. Lisa on March 1st, 2012 5:03 pm

    Dr. Park,

    My daughter (6 years old) has been sick with recurrent allergy/ cold symptoms, 2 ear infections and 3 cases of strep throat within a 6 month period after beginning kindergarten. She has had at least 4 rounds of antibiotics and a antibiotic shot. she would get better for a few days before having to go back to our dr. the allergy medications have not helped one bit. At the health check at her school they sent a note home that her tonsils were swollen and her uvula was hanging to the right. So I take her to a ENT Dr. referred to by our Dr. and he suggest that he puts tubes in her ears and removes her adenoids. We are getting a second opinion on March 5. She has trouble breathing at night , snores very loudly and won’t pay attention to me when I am talking to her even though I know she can hear me. She doesn’t have any learning difficulties yet. Would she need to have her tonsils taken out?


  46. Amy on June 13th, 2012 8:19 am

    is it possible that the tongue muscle can be clipped and cause speech problems, When you have the are tonsils removed?

  47. Andrea on August 19th, 2012 8:19 pm

    Can diverticulitis cause my tonsil to feel lower than the other?


  48. Gerardo Alvarez on September 28th, 2012 11:09 am

    Dear Dr. Park,
    I am a 16 year old teenager and my parents worry about me when I sleep. They say I snore like a 59 year old man and they often times say I have moments when I sound like I stop breathing. My theory to this is that my weight plays a big roll to my snoring. I weigh 243 lb ( well over the weight I should be at) but my parents think its my tonsils. I have rather normal sized tonsils(unless if I get sick). What do you think the reason for me snoring is??? Please help.

  49. Steven Park on September 30th, 2012 2:39 pm

    Gerardo, it’s most likely due to your weight, some tonsils can contribute, even if they’re small. It sounds like you should see a sleep doctor.

  50. Casie Skipworth on October 1st, 2012 6:57 pm

    My 10 yr old daughter has been getting headaches almost everyday for awhile now. She feels dizzy and like she’s is going to pass out sometimes. Her Dr has told us her tonsils are really big, so we went n saw a ear nose and throat specialist. He said he would recommended us removing them. But wev never thought about her headeaches being caused from them till just now. Is it possible that is why she’s getting the dizzy spells?

  51. Casie Skipworth on October 1st, 2012 6:57 pm

    My 10 yr old daughter has been getting headaches almost everyday for awhile now. She feels dizzy and like she’s is going to pass out sometimes. Her Dr has told us her tonsils are really big, so we went n saw a ear nose and throat specialist. He said he would recommended us removing them. But wev never thought about her headeaches being caused from them till just now. Is it possible that is why she’s getting the dizzy spells?

  52. Mark on October 1st, 2012 10:38 pm

    Hello! On July 4th, I was at the movies and suddenly I felt like something was in my throat and felt like it was clogged up causing hard ache , breathing problems. What is it and what can I do to solve the problem?

  53. Steven Park on October 1st, 2012 10:47 pm


    I can’t say without examining your daughter, but in general, having large tonsils can prevent proper breathing and quality deep sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause headaches. Migraines are the #1 reason for balance problems in children. Migraines can also affect the inner ear as well. Good luck.

  54. Karen Delacruz on October 16th, 2012 7:56 am

    I have had a chronic cough for over ten years now. It has gotten so bad that I was disabled due to it and other conditions combined. I have hearing loss,asthma,sleep apnea,high blood pressure,diabetes,ect. I cough sooooo hard it pulls muscles throughout my body, I turn red and almost pass out. I have to find something to help ??? But what can I do, the doctors have said if I were to get my tonsils out I could bleed to death due to the cough ??? My doctor has had me on lidocaine recently and it seems to take most of the violent coughing away, leaving me with just a slight cough during the time the troat is deadened. Is there a way the doctors could possibly safely remove my tonsils ????
    What is your opinion ???

  55. Rachel on October 18th, 2012 8:38 am

    Dr. Park,

    I was supposed to get my tonsils removed when I was a kid but my doctor retiried before he could. my new doctor said there was no need. I have been getting both tonsilitis and strep throat since I was 12. I get both 5-6 times a year. I’m now 19 and am thinking about getting my tonsils removed. Is there anyway I can go and request them to be taken out? I am missing school because i keep getting sick. I can’t talk or shallow. I really think it would be better for me if the were gone.
    please help.


  56. Steven Park on October 18th, 2012 9:15 am

    Rachael, you’ll get different opinions from different ENTs. Keep trying.

  57. manimaran.b on October 20th, 2012 11:51 am


    My son is nearing five years old,he is getting small red wound patches in throat at that time fever comes it will witstand for 4 days and red patches will hide fever also gone.it is keep on coming in two times in month ,pls give me remedy to my son,i was very felt very much.

  58. Mary Ros on November 1st, 2012 11:33 pm

    Hi, my name is Mary and my daughter is only 2 years old.
    She’ll be three in January. She started to have a fever a few days before Halloween. I didn’t think much of it and gave her children’s Tylenol. Until she couldn’t eat or swallow and started coughing and then vomit after she coughs. And now she’s having difficulties sleeping through the night and is whispering to speak. I had a feeling it was her tonsils. And I asked her to open up her mouth. And there they were swollen and bright red. Though her tonsils aren’t that large, but she complains of pain while swallowing. I searched online of what to do, but I am afraid. Because she is so small. And I haven’t gone to the doctors to let them examine her yet. I am waiting to see if she’ll get her voice back… What should I do? And if surgery is required, can a parent watch it get done? I don’t want to leave her side at all if she needs it.

    Concern mother – MARY (11-1-2012)

  59. Rebecca on November 28th, 2012 9:11 pm

    Dr Park,
    My daughter is 5 years old and has kissing tonsils. About 2 years ago she had the largest adeniods the doctors had seen at Mass Eye and Ear. Her tonsils were so small you barley knew they were there. Overtime her symptoms came back. Snoring loudly, eating small meals, coughing while laughing and even stops breathing during sleeping. Our ped referred us to another ENT for tonsil removal but I am concerned as to the underlying problem. What could have caused this? Are there tests available? Could it be a food or environmental allergy? Does she really need to have surgery? Please any help would be appreciated. I am worried about her health.

  60. Steven Park on November 28th, 2012 9:28 pm


    Since every child is different, I can’t say for sure without examining her, but adenoid or tonsil regrowth does happen occasionally. Typically, it’s most commonly due to allergies or reflux. However, having underlying obstructive sleep apnea can aggravate inflammation and swelling of these “lymphoid” tissues despite complete adenotonsillectomy. In these type of situations, I generally order a sleep study. If you deal with any obstructive sleep apnea afterwards, then there’s less of a chance that the adenoids will grow back.

  61. Tom on December 26th, 2012 12:49 pm

    I noticed my son had bad breath day before yesterday despite brushing his tongue and teeth Properly. Yesterday when he woke up he complained of neck pain, his neck was swollen and he snored badly through the night. He still has d bad breath too

  62. Carla on January 23rd, 2013 9:10 pm

    I have been told I have chronic tonsillitis, and though I have no discomfort or swelling and I don’t get strep the doctor has offered surgery as the only option. The only problem I am having is tonsil stones and because of the tonsil stones, bad breath. I can’t really find any information about chronic tonsillitis. I have been told the tonsil stones come from debris getting stuck in the crevises so I have been gargling often to try to wash debris away and this doesn’t seem to be helping. I was also told that if I have my tonsils out I will be restricted to the couch for at least 2 weeks, possibly 4, and not able to do anything around the house even. I am wondering if you can shed some light on this as far as what is going on with my tonsils, if I should proceed with surgery, and if so what a realistic post-op scenario would be like. (If it matters I am a 31 year old stay at home mom of 2). Thanks for any help you may be able to provide!

  63. Rehana, UAE on April 28th, 2013 12:17 am

    Dr Park, my daughter is 10 & having very large adenoids. Her tonsils are not very large but suffers from recurrent infections. She has breathing problem for blocked nose, sleep apnea, eating problems and often fever. ENT doc. adviced for both tonsillectomy & adenoictomy. As her tonsils are not very large, I am considering the only adenoictomy. I am afraid after hearing from some who are suffering from weight gaining & being sluggish after tonsillectomy. Would the only adenoictomy help to stop throats & recurrent tonsil infections? Pls ans me asap. She is very skinny and weak. Some advised to stop dairy product to reduce this problem, so I sopped giving her milk.What should I replace for milk? Her ears also sometimes getinfected.I am tired giving het antiboitics years after years. I need your advice.

  64. Christie on May 10th, 2013 2:11 pm

    Dr. Park,

    I was diagnosed with sleep apnea about 9 months ago and faithfully wore the mask. However, my insurance company would only allow a certain amount of money for sleep apnea and apparently, I exhausted it. For the past 6-7 months, I have had trouble swallowing–I feel like some pills and sometimes food gets caught in my throat about where the tonsils are. Yesterday, I went to an ENT and he put a lighted scope down my nose. I have been on acid reflux medicine for over 3 years now and was diagnosed about that time with Barrett’s esophagus. The ENT told me that enlarged tonsils can be caused by the fact that the medicine they have me on for reflux (Protonix) isn’t working well. But I have tried about 4 different medications for reflux and all have caused side effects. I have a barium x-ray coming up this next week. My question to you is: does surgery for a tonsillectomy on a 51-year old adult ever help with the kinds of problems I am having? Thank you for any help you might be able to give me. I am extremely worried about things getting stuck–it causes me lots of anxiety.

  65. S. Nikolova on May 14th, 2013 8:49 am

    Dr Park,
    I have concerns about my son’s health.
    He is 26. He has large tonsils. It happened that about 3.5 months ago he had infection and his tonsils became large and it was also accompanied with ear infection (otitis). He went to the doctor and was prescribed Amoxycicline. Before the infection was completely treated, he had to fly and we didn’t know that it will make the condition worse. During the flight and especially when the plane was landing, he experienced unbearable pain and tension in the tonsils and ears. The infection bursted and the tonsils became large. Also, he couldn’t hear properly for about a week, because of the ear infection. He went to the doctor again; he prescribed him Amoxyciclin again but it helped to a curtain degree – It couldn’t clear the infection thoroughly. Then he went to another doctor, who prescribed him Penicillin tincture, but it didn’t help and then another doctor, who prescribed him Clyndomicine and then the infection of the tonsils and ears was cured. However, the tonsils remained large and the doctor suggested that they should be removed, as, according to him, ‘they did not exercise their normal functions as they were intended to’. The infection was cured about 1.5 months ago and he feels OK now, but the tonsils are large. We would be very grateful to hear your opinion. Does he need to remove the tonsils or to wait and see if they are going to cause him problems often in the future?
    Also, there is another problem. His blood pressure is high 145 over 88. We took it several times and every time it varies from 156 to 138 (upper limit) over 88 / 90 (lower limit). We are wondering, if it that is related to the tonsils.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Thank You in advance.
    Best Regards,

  66. Stephanie on June 28th, 2013 1:22 pm

    I have a ? I am a 22yr old woman jus jus had my tonsils &adnoids removed 2days ago I still cnt eat very much &was wondering y my doc gave me steroids instead of an antibiotic ??

  67. Cristina on December 8th, 2013 3:08 pm

    Dr. Park,

    All though I haven’t been to a doctor about it, I know my tonsils are too big and i’m almost positive that I have sleep apnea because even though I sleep my 8 hours I am tired everyday at work. I have many problems with my jaw also, which makes me think that my jaw is too small. My question would essentially be: Is there anything that can be done about my jaw being too small?

  68. A.A on March 9th, 2014 8:32 am

    I have been suffering from Chronic Tonsillitis recently I looked at my throat and I noticed this red line(almost like a cut on my tonsil)only one Tonsil has this red line/cut.What could this be?

  69. Brad on May 12th, 2014 2:36 pm

    Hi Dr Park,

    I’m 36 years old and I’m scheduled to have a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy because they are enlarged/cryptic and they seem to get in the way. I also frequently get tonsil stones. The thing that worries me is that I have read some theories that tonsils are required to help prevent disease in the long run. One has even said that tonsils help prevent cancer. There is a study that provides evidence that a critical type of immune cell can develop in human tonsils. The cells, called T lymphocytes, or T cells, have been thought to develop only in the thymus, an organ of the immune system that sits on the heart (http://preventdisease.com/news/12/030612_Why-You-Should-Never-Remove-Your-Tonsils.shtml). What are your thoughts on this?


  70. Steven Park on May 12th, 2014 9:32 pm


    You have to balance the pros vs. potential cons. There’s no easy solution for tonsil stones. Rarely, they do resolve on their own, but most do not. Having large tonsils can also cause breathing problems, even if it’s not officially obstructive sleep apnea. Poor breathing leads to poor sleep quality.

    Regarding the tonsils and the immune system, your immune system is mostly educated in your early childhood years. Plus you have many other areas of lymphoid tissues that act to fight infections, such as deep in your neck, armpits, groins and all throughout your body. Not breathing and sleeping well have proven detrimental risks, whereas the reasons for not removing tonsils are only small, theoretical risks. For a final decision, it’s important to talk to your surgeon, since the decision has to be made on an individualized manner.

  71. Melody on July 13th, 2014 11:40 pm

    I’m curious if large tonsils can affect a woman’s hormones? Or if I could have some kind of infection because my left tonsil is always huge and will swell slightly if I have an ear infection but even after it is back to its ‘normal’ size. I had a dr a few years ago say she would have them taken out if only the right one would swell too. She was just a physician and not a specialist. I keep getting sore throats that never turn into anything else. I don’t have any other symptoms other than headaches from the pain in my throat. I never end up with a cold or strep throat. Eventually it goes away but then a few weeks later I will have a sore throat again. It feels like its in the top of my mouth but not where I can see anything. Thank you in advance for any info!

  72. Reuben on October 8th, 2014 6:53 pm

    I had tonsillitis aged 7. Missed two weeks of school. Still have tonsils now aged 13.

  73. Ms. Bell on January 23rd, 2015 9:43 pm

    tonsils are huge, have had sleep apnea since childhood, need to have them removed. Am 58 in good physical shape weigh 115, but a smoker for 30 years. should i do this.

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