Enlarged Adenoids and Your Child

A Guide to Identifying and Treating this Condition

Many people have heard of tonsils, and know that they become swollen when you get an infection or sore throat. In addition to tonsils, children’s bodies have tissues called adenoids located at the back of the throat that prevent infection by catching bacteria and germs that enter through the nose and mouth. When they trap germs, the tissues become swollen, and under normal circumstances they return to their regular size once the infection is gone. However, in some cases the adenoids remain enlarged and inflamed long after the infection is gone.

The adenoids play a larger role in preventing infection when we are young; they are much larger in babies and young children, and begin to shrink around the age of 5 or 6. By the time most people reach their teenage years, the adenoids are virtually gone. As a result, enlarged adenoids are much more common in children, although there are some cases when adults can suffer from this condition.

What Causes Enlarged Adenoids?

There are three main reasons that children experience enlarged adenoids:
  • They have an infection and the adenoids are swollen and inflamed while trying to remove the germs or bacteria.
  • They have allergies.
  • They were born with enlarged adenoids.
The most common reason for enlarged adenoids is infection. When bacteria and germs enter through the nose and mouth, the adenoids are one part of the body’s defense system to trap them before they make a person sick. Usually the adenoids will swell when fighting off infection, then return to normal once the threat is gone. In some cases, the tissues swells and becomes inflamed and never returns to normal, a condition that partially blocks a child’s airway and prevents normal breathing. When that happens, it may be necessary to undergo an adenoid removal procedure.

Symptoms to Watch For

Symptoms for enlarged adenoids can be similar to a cold or sore throat, and include:
  • Persistent and ongoing runny nose
  • Congestion and stuffy nose
  • Earaches or frequent ear infections
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Snoring or irregular breathing during sleep
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth with cracked or chapped lips
  • Bad breath from breathing through the mouth

Treatment Options

A doctor can look at the adenoids using a mirror or endoscope, and if the doctor suspects the problems may be related to enlarged adenoids, he or she can recommend an X-ray, or in some cases, may want to do a sleep study. Minor infections may be treated with antibiotics, but if your child has enlarged adenoids for a long period of time, an adenoid removal procedure, commonly called an adenoidectomy, may be required.

Contact Us to Learn More

There are many options for treating enlarged adenoids, including surgery to remove the adenoids when necessary. Catching and treating the condition early can help your child sleep and breathe better, and in most cases the symptoms your child was experiencing will clear up within a couple of weeks following the procedure. Contact miVIP Surgery Centers at 855-496-4847 to learn more about your surgical options for treating enlarged adenoids.


  • Adenoidectomy