Adenoids in Children
The adenoids are patches of tissue that sit at the very back of the nasal passage/top of the throat. Some parents may confuse the adenoids with the tonsils, which are visible at the back of the throat. However, the adenoids aren't directly visible in a routine nose or throat exam. Like tonsils, the adenoids do important work for babies and young children, as the adenoids are one of the first lines of defense when harmful bacteria and viruses are inhaled or swallowed.
As your child ages, the adenoids lose significance as the body learns how to fight infection. Adenoids begin to shrink in childhood. They continue to decrease in size into teen/adult years. Adenoids do not typically grow back, although that is not always the case.
Symptoms of Enlarged Adenoids
Because they are on the front line of a body's defenses, it's possible that the adenoids may swell temporarily as they fight off infections. Multiple infections, allergies and other factors may cause chronic enlargement. When adenoids become enlarged, your child may experience:
- Difficulty breathing through the nose.
- Bad breath and dry lips from breathing through the mouth.
- Sounding as if the nose is pinched or stuffed.
- Frequent sinus symptoms.
- Restless sleep or disruptive sleep apnea.
- Ongoing middle ear infections or fluid build-up in school age.
If your doctor suspects enlarged adenoids, he or she may perform a basic physical examination of the nose, throat, ears and feeling the neck along the jaw in order to diagnose. He or she may also use an x-ray or an endoscope, a long flexible tube with a light on one end.
Treatment of Enlarged Adenoids
If your child has minimal symptoms, no treatment is typically needed. Your doctor may recommend a nasal spray to help reduce swelling and potentially an antibiotic if the infection is bacterial. Another treatment for more severe cases is an
Adenoidectomy in Children
Adenoidectomy is the removal of the adenoids via surgery through the open mouth, with your child under general anesthesia for around 30 minutes. It is an outpatient procedure that is may be done at the same time as a tonsillectomy. Your doctor may want to perform an adenoidectomy if your child:
- Has multiple episodes of adenoid infection and subsequent middle ear infections or fluid build-up in the ear.
- Shows no improvement of bacterial infection while taking an antibiotic.
- Suffers from airway blockage.
- Develops obstructive sleep apnea.
- Has recurrent episodes of
Adenoidectomy recovery for your child may involve several days of mild to moderate pain and discomfort, a runny nose and bad breath. Keep your child well-hydrated with bland, non-carbonated drinks like apple juice and broth, and make sure he or she follows diet as instructed by your surgeon.
Tonsils and Adenoids - Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute
Tonsils and adenoids are lymphatic tissue
located in the back of the throat along the
sides for the tonsils and directly behind
the nose and the nasal pharynx.
The most common that people are familiar with
are viral infections and bacterial infections
of the tonsils and the adenoids.
But many times they are bothered by post nasal
drainage from congestion, either viral or
allergy involving the nose.
It is much more common in children that we
will see obstruction due to tonsil and adenoid
Parents will see snoring, nasal obstruction
with mouth breathing, and certainly kids are
more prone to recurrent tonsillitis and strep.
Adults definitely do have problems.
Theirs are more a chronic infection, low grade
infection that just won’t go away with chronic
Viral infections are going to be treated with
support of care, lots of fluid, rest, and
Bacterial infections such as strep which everyone
is familiar with is going to be treated with
If the inflammation of the tonsils is due
to allergic drainage from the back of the
nose, then generally antihistamines in a liquid
or pill form and then nasal steroid sprays.
Generally we will take tonsils out for two
If the tonsils are enlarged enough that they
are causing obstructive symptoms that are
significant, either difficulty swallowing
meats and trouble gaining wait, they could
be so enlarged that the child is snoring and
not getting quality sleep and that can lead
to behavior issues and difficulty learning
in the classroom; and then recurrent strep
infections or viral infections of the tonsils.
If that’s happening too often and they are
spending too many times on antibiotics, it
can decrease their health and become enough
of a problem that we need to remove them.