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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Tonsils

11/18/2010

Question:

As you age do your tonsils recede, and if they do, is it like a sore throat, but a little lower? It doesn`t hurt to swallow but it is tender to the touch just below my left jaw. Also, I just noticed I can`t see my tonsils when I look in my mouth like I could before...they were always very prominent...and one more thing, as a child I had tonsilitis frequently...does that make a difference?

Answer:

As we age, it is not unusual for the tonsils to shrink or atrophy, so they might indeed appear smaller to you now.  It is also not unusual to have many episodes of tonsillitis as a child, and then have the problem clear up once you become an adult. 

Once an adult, the tonsils do not provide any benefit, so this is all good.  If your throat is not sore when you swallow, then it is not likely your tonsils are inflamed, and it is not likely the tonsils are causing your symptoms, specifically the tenderness below your left jaw.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati