Adenoids and the Symptoms of Adenoiditis

You’ve likely heard of a tonsillectomy and tonsillitis. Many of us had our tonsils removed as young children. While tonsils get the lion’s share of attention, adenoiditis and adenoid surgery (or adenoidectomy) is also a relatively common procedure for children.

The Ear, Nose and Throat Center regularly treats tonsillitis and adenoiditis in young patients. To help you better understand this condition, we’ll explain adenoids, the symptoms of adenoiditis, how the ENT Center treats adenoiditis, and recovery from an adenoidectomy (adenoid surgery).

What are Adenoids?
Like tonsils, adenoids are tissue/glands located behind the nose and roof of the mouth that help fight and prevent infection by trapping germs as they pass through the nose and mouth. In fact, adenoids are key elements in a child’s immune system because they not only trap germs but also create antibodies that help fight infections. Yet, like tonsils, adenoids can get infected, which leads to sore throats, swollen glands and other symptoms.

One of the most surprising facts about adenoids is that while they are difficult to see in the throat even when infected, they actually begin to shrink when children are between the ages of 5 and 7 years-old and typically disappear completely by the time most are teenagers. However, adenoids may persist through adulthood in some individuals.

It’s important to note as well that many studies have revealed that removal of tonsils and adenoids do not impair a child’s ability to fight infection or stay healthy.

The Symptoms of Adenoiditis
Adenoids are a magnet for germs and infection. That’s a good thing because it means the adenoids are doing their job to protect against infection. But sometimes bacteria cause adenoids to become infected and swollen. At that point, a patient may be suffering from adenoiditis.

Adenoiditis symptoms vary but are typically accompanied by some or all of the following:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Bad breath
  • Earache
  • Swollen neck glands in the front of the throat
  • Heavy mouth breathing
  • Snoring or sleep apnea
  • Trouble sleeping due to difficult breathing
  • Nasal speaking sound

How We Treat Adenoiditis
You’ll notice that adenoiditis symptoms and tonsillitis are similar in many ways. That’s why a doctor’s examination is helpful to correctly diagnose adenoiditis or tonsillitis. Your doctor will carefully examine your ears, nose and throat and pay close attention to the lymph nodes in your neck. Because adenoids can be so difficult to see, your doctor may order X-rays to assess the size of the adenoids.

Once we have confirmed adenoiditis, we begin treatment with antibiotics. This treatment course works well in many patients and is often the only course of treatment that is needed. However, if a patient has frequent throat, ear and sinus infections or ongoing problems with breathing and sleep, adenoid surgery may be recommended.

A good benchmark for determining if a child has chronic ear infections is to assess how often they occur. Five or more infections in a single year or 3 or more infections during a two-year period is often an indication that a child suffers from chronic ear infections and adenoid surgery may provide relief.

Adenoid surgery is known as adenoidectomy and is a routine outpatient procedure that is performed quickly with minimal side effects. It’s likely your physician will recommend that an adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy are performed at the same time since adenoiditis and tonsillitis are often directly connected. Performance of both procedures typically results in dramatic reduction in infection and snoring and improvement in sleep and overall health.

Read: Adenoid Surgery and Recovery from Adenoidectomy

Of course, we’ll explore treatment options together and determine if surgery is necessary and recommended.

Call us at 801-328-2522 to meet with one of our ear, nose and throat doctors so we can diagnose and treat your child’s adenoiditis.

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