Enlarged adenoids

The adenoids along with the tonsils play an important role in defending the body against infection. However, they can cause problems of their own.

Enlarged adenoids are a common childhood condition which often resolves itself once the person reaches their teenage years. But in some cases, the problem persists into adulthood.

At one time it was common for the adenoids to be removed along with the tonsils although this is less common now. Removing the adenoids and tonsils does not affect the body’s immune system or cause any problems for the person concerned.

Causes of enlarged adenoids

Some children are particularly prone to this condition due to the fact that they were born with large adenoids to start with. They find that develop throat or upper respiratory infections on a regular basis which results in a build up of fluid and sore, inflamed adenoids.

The child often finds that their enlarged adenoids cause them to snore at night or in a few cases, interrupts their breathing. This is known as sleep apnoea. It is normal for children to contract throat infections on a regular basis but this can lead to a disruption to their schooling. If you are a parent of a child who repeatedly experiences throat infections (and enlarged adenoids) then you may consider surgery to remove both the adenoids and the tonsils.

Your GP will advise you more about this.

Symptoms of enlarged adenoids

A child or adult with enlarged adenoids will breathe through their mouth –rather than the nose, which causes snoring, a dry throat and lips.

This usually occurs at night although some people find themselves breathing in this way during the day. Other symptoms of enlarged adenoids include:

  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Earache or other ear problems
  • Poor quality of speech

Another problem is that of disrupted sleep. The breathing is affected which causes the person to awake several times during the night. This results in tiredness the following day.

If this is repeated over several nights then tiredness builds up which causes further problems. If you are a parent and your child experiences this then it can affect their growth pattern.

Treatment for enlarged adenoids

Your GP can diagnose enlarged adenoids by using a specially angled mirror. Another option is to insert a flexible tube with a camera mounted on top –called an ‘endoscope’ to which allows him/her to examine the adenoids more closely.

This type of examination is carried out by an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Treatment usually involves antibiotics but surgery –known as an ‘adenoidectomy’may be performed in chronic or repeated cases of enlarged adenoids.

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