Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page

 

Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Enlarged adenoids

Adenoids - enlarged

 

The adenoids are lymph tissues that sit in your upper airway between your nose and the back of your throat. They are similar to the tonsils.

Enlarged adenoids means this tissue is swollen.

Causes

 

Enlarged adenoids may be normal. They may grow bigger when the baby grows in the womb. The adenoids help the body prevent or fight infections by trapping bacteria and germs.

Infections can cause the adenoids to become swollen. The adenoids may stay enlarged even when you are not sick.

 

Symptoms

 

Children with enlarged adenoids often breathe through the mouth because the nose is blocked. Mouth breathing occurs mostly at night, but may be present during the day.

Mouth breathing may lead to the following symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Cracked lips
  • Dry mouth
  • Persistent runny nose or nasal congestion

Enlarged adenoids may also cause sleep problems. A child may:

  • Be restless while sleeping
  • Snore a lot
  • Have episodes of not breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)

Children with enlarged adenoids may also have more frequent ear infections.

 

Exams and Tests

 

The adenoids cannot be seen by looking in the mouth directly. The health care provider can see them by using a special mirror in the mouth or by inserting a flexible tube (called an endoscope) placed through the nose.

Tests may include:

  • X-ray of the throat or neck
  • Sleep study if sleep apnea is suspected

 

Treatment

 

Many people with enlarged adenoids have few or no symptoms and do not need treatment. Adenoids shrink as a child grows older.

The provider may prescribe antibiotics or nasal steroid sprays if an infection develops.

Surgery to remove the adenoids (adenoidectomy) may be done if the symptoms are severe or persistent.

 

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your provider if your child has trouble breathing through the nose or other symptoms of enlarged adenoids.

 

 

References

Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW III, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 383.

BACK TO TOPText only

 
  • After your child's tonsil or adenoid surgery

    After your chi...

    Animation

  • Throat anatomy

    Throat anatomy

    illustration

  • Adenoids

    Adenoids

    illustration

  • After your chi...

    Animation

  • Throat anatomy

    Throat anatomy

    illustration

  • Adenoids

    Adenoids

    illustration

A Closer Look

 

    Talking to your MD

     

      Self Care

       

        Tests for Enlarged adenoids

         
           

          Review Date: 8/5/2015

          Reviewed By: Sumana Jothi MD, specialist in laryngology, Clinical Instructor UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
          adam.com

           
           
           

           

           

          A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.