You’ve got questions about adenoids and we’ve got answers. Here’s everything you need to know about adenoids.

What are adenoids and what do they do?

 Adenoids are bits of spongy lymph tissue that play a major role in the immunity system of the upper airways. They are part of a child’s defense against disease. White blood cells circulate through the adenoids and react to bacteria and viruses in the body.

How do they cause problems? 

Bacterial or viral infections can cause an infection known as adenoiditis. This infection causes swelling. The infection itself is a problem and the swelling caused by the infection causes other problems. 

Swollen adenoids block the Eustachian tubes that drain fluid from the ears. This can lead to repeated ear infections. The problem is not the ear – it’s the adenoids.

Swollen adenoids can block the flow of air through the back of the throat. This obstruction can block breathing while you sleep, a condition known as sleep apnea. 

Why do these conditions only affect children? 

Adenoids are useful and active during the early years of a child’s life.   They play an important role in building the child’s immune system. Sometime about the age of 10, the adenoids begin the shrink and completely disappear by adulthood. If your kid makes it through childhood without adenoid problems, they will never have adenoid problems in the future.

What are the symptoms of adenoid infection?

An adenoid infection can mimic some of the symptoms of a cold. For example, your child may have a sore throat or a stuffy nose.  These other symptoms may or not be present:

  • Bad breath
  • Earache
  • Trouble breathing through the nose
  • Snoring
  • Swollen neck glands

How are they examined? 

The most common examination is by use of an endoscope. This is a small flexible tube with a light and camera on the end. The ENT uses it to look at nasal passages and adenoids on a video screen in real time. A CT scanner may also be used to take multiple x-rays and then a computer constructs images of the sinuses and adenoids.

How are adenoid infections treated?

If your child has an occasional infection, the standard treatment will be antibiotics. It is important that the entire course of antibiotics be completed, even if your child is feeling and acting better in just a few days. If your child continues to have adenoid and/or tonsil infections, the ENT will recommend adenoidectomy. This is a very simple surgical procedure that will remove the adenoids and the source of adenoid infections. The adenoids may be removed along with the tonsils, or they may be removed alone.

Got more questions? The ENT is ready to answer your questions about your child’s adenoids. Call an ENT in your area and schedule an appointment today!