What are adenoids?
Part of the lymphatic system, adenoids are glands which sit in the back of the nasal cavity at the juncture of the nose, throat and mouth. They are fleshy mounds of tissue that can’t be seen by opening the mouth (unlike tonsils).
Performing a similar function to tonsils, adenoids help the body stay healthy by trapping germs and bacteria that enter via the mouth or airways. They produce white blood cells to help fight infections.
You are born with adenoids and they reach maximum size around the ages of 5-7yo. Then they start to shrink and usually disappear all together by the teenage years.
When can adenoids become a problem?
As they fight infection adenoids can swell then return to normal size. However sometimes they can become infected themselves and stay swollen. Some people naturally have larger adenoids.
Issues related to infected or enlarged adenoids include:
- Blocked airways and difficulty breathing from the nose
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Ear problems such as glue ear or middle ear infections
Ongoing swelling or enlargement can contribute to obstructive sleep apnoea, where breathing stops during sleep.
What is an adenoidectomy?
When adenoids are removed this is called an adenoidectomy. An Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist may recommend an adenoidectomy if:
- The child suffers recurrent ear, nose or throat infections
- Impact of associated problems such as obstructive sleep apnoea
- Failure to respond to antibiotics
It is common for a tonsillectomy (tonsil removal) to be performed at the same time as adenoid removal. If your child is suffering from ongoing ear problems, the ENT may also want to insert small plastic tubes called grommets into the ear.
A fairly common procedure, adenoidectomy occurs under a general anaesthetic. The procedure itself takes about 30 minutes. Depending on what other procedures are done, your child may need to stay in hospital overnight. Your child will be fully recovered from the procedure within 10-14 days.
You can read more about adenoidectomies here.