Medical Matters > Tonsils and adenoids

ME Essential Summer 2024


Is the presence of enlarged tonsils and adenoids  in adults who have ME/CFS?I was told by an ENT consultant that they shouldn’t normally be visible or prominent in adulthood.

He wasn’t concerned and didn’t think an operation was necessary. However, this set me wondering about why are they are enlarged and when an operation might be necessary .


Tonsils and adenoids are an important part of the body’s immune system. Their function is to help fight infections – especially during childhood. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to indicate that some people with ME/CFS still have painful attacks of tonsillitis in adulthood – possibly more frequently than normal healthy adults. This could be related to an increased sensitivity to pick up throat infections and not deal with them adequately. Enlarged adenoids can cause snoring, mouth breathing, nasal congestion, ear and sinus problems, and a ‘nasal’ voice quality. Some of these symptoms can also cause or exacerbate fatigue.

But there is less anecdotal evidence relating to adenoid enlargement in people with ME/CFS. There are medicines and sprays available from your pharmacist or GP that can help to reduce some of the symptoms caused by enlarged adenoids. Antibiotics may be prescribed for attacks of tonsillitis. If you have ME/CFS and are having recurrent episodes of tonsillitis, or enlarged adenoids are causing breathing problems – or possibly even sleep apnoea, it would be sensible to discuss the possibility of surgery with your GP.

Further information:

When do adults need their tonsils removed?


Information provided by The ME Association should not be construed as medical advice. Don't assume any new or worsened symptoms are simply the result of having ME/CFS or Long Covid. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your NHS GP as soon as possible. It is important that you seek personalised medical advice from the GP who is in charge of your care and who knows you well.

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