Like tonsils, adenoids act like a protective sponge by catching all the germs that are trying to enter your child’s throat and nose. Their role is more pronounced before the age of 5 years. They usually enlarge as your child suffers from more and more infections. After 5 years of age, they usually shrink in size. Enlarged adenoids and adenoiditis (infection of the adenoids) can cause symptoms in a child such as:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose or stuffy nose
- Feeling that your ears are plugged
- Sleep apnea (temporary cessation of breathing in sleep)
- Swelling of neck
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry mouth and lips (due to breathing through mouth)
- Ear pain
- Bad breath
- Dentition problem
- Ear infection due to constant respiratory tract infection
How do doctors diagnose adenoid problems?
An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor specializes in treating problems of the adenoid. They will usually find out the location of the infection that is causing adenoiditis or adenoid enlargement. They may use an instrument with a mirror that allows them to look at your child’s adenoids. Additionally, they may order tests, such as:
- Blood tests to check if there is an infection
- X-ray of the head and neck to look if there is any swelling or growth
- Throat swabs to look for the exact microorganism that has caused the infection
- Polysomnogram (sleep study)
How are adenoid problems treated?
Initially, doctors prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to get your child of the infection and pain. However, if antibiotics do not work in resolving your child’s problem or your child suffers from breathing problems due to the adenoids, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the adenoids. The surgical procedure is known as adenoidectomy. It is one of the most common surgeries performed in children and performed along with a tonsillectomy. Tonsillectomy is the surgery to remove the tonsils.
What happens during an adenoidectomy?
The ENT surgeon is the one who performs the adenoidectomy. Before the surgery, your child will be administered general anesthesia that makes them sleep throughout the procedure. The surgeon will put the instruments through your child’s mouth to cut and remove the adenoids. The procedure does not require any incision and stitches. A few stitches may be put only on the place from where adenoids have been excised. The whole procedure takes anywhere between 20-30 minutes.
Your child may be discharged on the same day after observation of 4-5 hours or the next day after an overnight stay.
How long does it take to recover from adenoidectomy?
Usually, it takes less than a week for your child to recover from the adenoidectomy. The adenoids also heal on their own. There is mild pain or discomfort for a few days. Your child may also experience sore throat, runny nose, and bad breath for a few days, which is normal.
Here are a few tips to care for your child after the surgery:
- You can encourage your child to have plenty of fluids soon after they recover from the anesthesia.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier if your child suffers from a stuffy nose after the surgery.
- Do not allow your child to play sports until the doctor advises to do so.
- Discourage your child from blowing their nose for 1-2 weeks after the surgery.
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McClay JE. Adenoidectomy. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/872216-overview
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