Adenoids: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Overview

Adenoids are a patch of tissue that is located in the throat behind the nose. Adenoids and tonsils are part of the lymphatic system. They provide protection against infections and flush away unwanted particles to keep the body in balance and healthy. Because adenoids trap harmful germs coming in through the mouth and nose, adenoid tissue sometimes temporarily swells.

The adenoids can cause problems if they become enlarged, such as difficulty breathing, especially at night. Fortunately, they’re not an essential part of the immune system, and they can generally be treated by removing them.

Adenoids usually start to shrink after the age 5, and by the teenage years, they often disappear. In adults, both tonsils and adenoids shrink. However, they can both swell up again with infections.

Causes

Enlarged adenoids is a common condition. Children often suffer from enlarged adenoids for different reasons. A child can be born with enlarged adenoids. They grow until a child is between the ages of 3 and 5. Normally, they begin to shrink after 7. They shrink considerably in adulthood.

Besides, adenoids can become swollen due to infection and they might stay enlarged even after the infection is gone. Enlarged adenoids can also be caused by allergies.

Symptoms

Enlarged
adenoids can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Problems breathing through the nose
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Cracked lips and dry mouth
  • Ear infections
  • Talking with a ‘blocked nose’ sound
  • Yellow or green mucus coming from the nose

Diagnosis

The adenoids cannot be seen by looking in the
mouth directly. The doctor will use a special mirror and insert a small,
flexible telescope (known as an endoscope) through the nose to view the
adenoids. To diagnose adenoids, some tests also must be taken, including:

  • X-ray of the throat or neck

In some areas of the body, the enlarged lymph nodes are palpable, while others are too deep to feel and can be seen on CT scan.

  • Sleep study

This will determine if they’re suffering from sleep apnea. During the study, the child will sleep overnight at a facility while their breathing and brain activity is monitored using electrodes. The study is painless, but it can be difficult for some children to sleep in a strange place.

Treatment

Treatment
for adenoids depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Many people
with enlarged adenoids have few or no symptoms and do not need treatment.
Adenoids shrink as a child grows older. If a child’s enlarged adenoids aren’t
infected, the doctor may recommend antibiotics or a nasal spray to help.

However, in other cases, surgery to remove the adenoids may be done if the symptoms are severe or persistent. The surgery is called adenoidectomy, which typically takes around 30 minutes. The procedure is fairly simple and doesn’t have many risks. It typically leaves the child with a few days of moderate to mild pain.



Keywords: adenoids.

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