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I'm an Adult with Constant Sore Throats: Should I Get My Tonsils Taken Out?

I'm an Adult with Constant Sore Throats: Should I Get My Tonsils Taken Out?

There are certain health issues that we associate with kids and teens, such as ear infections, acne, and sore throats due to tonsillitis. While these associations are strong, it certainly doesn’t mean that adults are immune to so-called childhood health conditions, which is certainly true with chronic sore throats.

At Advanced ENT & Allergy, Dr. Timothy Queen and our team offer adult ear, nose, and throat services, and we see our fair share of adult patients who suffer from frequent sore throats.

In the following, we take a closer look at what might be driving the throat issues and when removing tonsils comes into play.

Behind adult sore throats

Our first order of business is to get to the bottom of your frequent sore throats, and by frequent we mean that you have three or more bouts with a sore throat each year.


Sore throats can develop in adults for a wide variety of reasons, including:

Some adults experience frequent sore throats because of stress, which causes your muscles to tense up.

The list of potential suspects regarding sore throats is long, and only one of them would lead us to consider removing your tonsils as a viable treatment option. 

Why adults have their tonsils removed

As in children, we only consider tonsil surgery for chronic sore throats due to persistent tonsillitis. This condition occurs on the heels of a viral or bacterial infection that leads to inflammation in the two pieces of tissue at the back of your throat — your tonsils.

The guidelines for what we consider frequent tonsillitis include:

And these guidelines hold for both kids and adults. Kids are likelier to have tonsillitis because their tonsils play a more prominent immunity role before puberty.

We want to point out that we try other treatment options before we suggest surgery, such as antibiotics and taking steps to prevent infection.

If antibiotics aren’t working anymore, your prevention measures aren’t having any effect, and you’re still experiencing frequent sore throats, we can discuss whether a tonsillectomy is appropriate.

The good news is that removing tonsils to cure persistent tonsillitis is effective. For example, one study found that people who didn’t have tonsil surgery had 2-7 sore throats within six months, while those who did have their tonsils removed only experienced one sore throat during the same timeframe.

To determine which solution is best for your frequent sore throats, please contact our office in Newport News, Virginia, to schedule a consultation.

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