When it comes to throat surgeries in young children, tonsils seem to get all the attention. People talk about how an ear, nose and throat doctor removed their tonsils as a young child. They may fondly remember the days of eating ice cream and pudding as their primary diet following surgery. They may even swap stories on how their doctor told them they had large or small tonsils.
For some reason, people seem to forget about their adenoids—even if they were removed during a tonsillectomy. Adenoids, like tonsils, are important glands that play a critical role in helping young children stay healthy and fight infection. So the Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Salt Lake City has written five facts about adenoids and adenoid surgery to help give these often-forgotten glands the attention they deserve.
Fact #1: Adenoids Are Glands That Fight Infection
Tonsils and adenoids are the twin powers in the throat that help fight infection. Unlike tonsils that are relatively easy to see (especially when they are enlarged), adenoids hide behind the nose and roof of the mouth. Our ear, nose and throat doctors often use x-rays to assess the size and inflammation of adenoids.
Adenoids capture and filter bacteria and germs as they pass through the mouth and help young children stay healthy. But when adenoids become infected, young children will get sore throats, swollen glands in the neck, may breathe heavily through the mouth, complain of earaches and more. At this point, a child may have adenoiditis and require a trip to the ear, nose and throat doctor’s office for diagnosis and treatment.
Fact #2: Swollen Adenoids Often Treated with Antibiotics
More than 100,000 adenoid removal surgeries or adenoidectomy are performed in the United States each year. That may seem like a lot of surgeries, but when you consider the millions of people in America, that number is relatively low. The reason for the low number is that doctors typically recommend antibiotics to treat swollen or infected adenoids. If the child suffers from inner-ear infections, a course of antibiotics is also recommended and in both cases, the antibiotics often prove successful.
Fact #3: Adenoids Disappear as We Grow Older
Adenoids grow between the ages of three and five years old. This is when adenoids are doing their heavy lifting to help strengthen a child’s immune system. Remarkably and completely unlike tonsils, adenoids begin to shrink between the ages of 5- and 7-years-old and typically disappear by the time a child reaches their early teenage years. In essence, adenoids serve their purpose and then get out of the way. That explains why you don’t hear about adults going in for adenoid removal, although in some cases, adenoids silently remain with adults throughout their lives.
Fact #4: Adenoids Often Removed Along with Tonsils
When antibiotics don’t work to reduce or eliminate sore throats, recurring ear infections or other symptoms of tonsillitis and adenoiditis, ear, nose and throat doctors in Utah often recommend adenoid surgery. It’s common for tonsils and adenoids to be removed at the same time. This outpatient surgery is performed quickly and patients are typically able to return home within a few hours of leaving the surgical room.
The benefit of adenoid surgery is that the young patient only has to deal with a single surgical event to remove two helpful, but sometimes troublesome and infected, parts of their inner throat. Recovery is swift and long-term health benefits are often dramatic and positive.
Fact #5: Adenoid Removal Often Results in Improved Health
Ultimately, good health is everyone’s goal. If your child struggles with regular tonsil or adenoid infections (three times in a year) or inner-ear infections (three times in a year), they are likely candidates for a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. The good news is that the child will likely endure:
- Fewer sore throats: Tonsil and adenoid removal result in fewer bacterial infections, though viral infections are still possible.
- Decreased mouth breathing: Your child may still breathe through her mouth. But chances are good she will breathe easier due to the removal of swollen tonsils and adenoids that constrict the space for air to enter the lungs through the throat.
- Fewer ear infections: While patients may still have ear infections, adenoid removal will likely result in fewer.
- Better, fresher breath: One of the ugly byproducts of infected adenoids or tonsils is bad breath. Remove the culprits and the child’s breath will often smell much better.
- Clearer sounding voice: In some cases when adenoids and tonsils are very large, a child’s voice may sound muffled or nasally. Removal of adenoids and tonsils can help improve the quality and clarity of a child’s voice.
The Ear, Nose and Throat Center Can Diagnose and Treat Adenoiditis
Our ENT doctors in Salt Lake City have treated thousands of Utah patients who suffer from swollen adenoids and tonsils. If your child is suffering or exhibiting symptoms of adenoiditis, call us at 801-328-2522 to set an appointment. Better health may just be a phone call and office visit away.