Understanding Adenoids — Its Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What are Adenoids?

Adenoids are glands located just behind the nasal passage which form a part of the body’s immune system. These are a patch of tissues which, along with the tonsils, form a part of the lymphatic system. Together, they work to clear away infections and keep the balance of body fluids. They also help trap germs entering through the mouth and the nose.

Adenoids play an important role in younger individuals to help fight off germs and infections until their bodies develop another mechanism. Adenoids usually begin to shrink after the age of 5, and by a child’s teenage years, they are completely gone.

Conditions & Disorders of Adenoids

While the adenoids are still existing in a child, they can experience inflammation and enlargement of the adenoids. This can be due to many reasons, particularly infections. Some of the common causes of inflammation of the adenoids include the following:

  • Frequent or recurring ear infections
  • Infection in the upper respiratory system
  • Recurring nosebleeds
  • Allergies

Signs & Symptoms of Enlarged Adenoids

Enlargement of adenoids usually occurs due to infections, which may stay enlarged even after the infection has passed. However, having enlarged adenoids may cause difficulty in breathing and sometimes causing the child to breathe only through the mouth. This may lead to conditions such as:

  • Dry mouth
  • Runny nose
  • Cracked lips
  • Bad breath

There can also be other symptoms in the child due to enlargement in the adenoids. These may include:

  • Breathing loudly
  • Restless sleep
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Nasal congestion 
  • The feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Ear infections

Diagnosis of Enlarged Adenoids

Enlargement of the adenoids can be best diagnosed by a qualified healthcare provider or a paediatrician. A primary physical examination of the ears, nose, throat, and mouth may be necessary. The paediatrician may also ask for the kid’s medical history, including the symptoms. Since the adenoids are located higher up than the throat, the paediatrician may require imaging tests to get a proper view of the adenoids. They may recommend certain diagnostic tests such as:

  • Imaging Test: These may be performed to obtain a proper view of the child’s nasal passages and adenoids along with the sinuses. X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans may be recommended for this purpose.
  • Sleep Studies: If the kid suffers from sleeping obstruction due to enlarged adenoids, the paediatrician may recommend a sleep study, which may help in their treatment.
  • Nasal Endoscopy: For viewing the adenoids directly, the paediatrician may use an endoscope (a flexible tube with a light and a camera mounted on the top). This can help identify inflammation, redness, and swelling of the adenoids.
  • Bacteria Culture Test: A bacteria culture may be recommended by the paediatrician to check if the inflammation is due to bacterial infection.

Treatment of Enlarged Adenoids

The healthcare provider or paediatrician may determine the cause of enlarged adenoids through the diagnosis. Based on what has been identified as the cause, treatment follows accordingly. If the symptoms are not severe, treatment may not even be required or recommended. However, primary treatment may be given for which antibiotic medications may be recommended. Antihistamine medicines may help control allergic reactions causing inflammation and swelling. A nasal spray may also be beneficial for the treatment of adenoids.

In case non-surgical treatment has not worked, Adenoidectomy may be recommended by the doctor.

Adenoidectomy Treatment 

Adenoidectomy is the surgical procedure performed to remove the adenoids. Why may it be recommended? Apart from medicines failing to work, there may also be other reasons why Adenoidectomy may be recommended to a child:

  • Repeated adenoid infection leads to the buildup of fluid in the middle ear, causing ear infection
  • Enlarged adenoids blocking the nasal pathway

The Adenoidectomy procedure may help to treat a number of conditions caused by enlarged adenoids. The most common conditions treated by performing Adenoidectomy include:

  • Breathing troubles
  • Sleeping troubles
  • Ear infections, including hearing loss problems 
  • Nasal drainage and congestion 
  • Sinus infections 

What happens during Adenoidectomy?

During the Adenoidectomy procedure, a paediatric surgeon may surgically remove the child’s adenoids. It may be performed under general anaesthesia. The procedure is performed through the mouth, which requires no incision on the skin and leaves no scars. 

Along with the Adenoidectomy procedure, a tonsillectomy procedure may also be performed to remove the tonsils if they also become swollen and cause symptoms.

Recovery after Adenoidectomy

Recovery from the Adenoidectomy surgery may require a few days. During the recovery period, there may be some symptoms of throat pain, pain in the ear, and bad breath, along with a runny nose in children. They may also experience fever and vomiting in the first two days after the surgery. Pain-relieving medication may be recommended, mostly in liquid form, for them to swallow easily. In most cases, children may be able to return to school after about a week following the surgery.

Risks & Benefits of Adenoidectomy

An Adenoidectomy is one of the most common procedures performed among children. It is a safe surgery and helps relieve symptoms caused by the enlargement of the adenoids. While the adenoids are a part of the patient’s immune system, removing them may not necessarily make them weak or more susceptible to diseases or infections. 

While it is a safe procedure, the Adenoidectomy is a surgical method which may still carry some risks. These potential risks are rare and may include the following:

  • Infection
  • Mild pain
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Damage to the vocal cord
  • Failure to resolve the underlying issue

It is also possible for the adenoids to grow back after having been removed. If the problems persist despite the surgery, a second surgery may be required. If you experience any symptoms mentioned above or have been recommended for Adenoidectomy, you can always visit the top surgeons and medical professionals.