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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Enlarged adenoids

Adenoids - enlarged

Last reviewed: October 18, 2013.

The adenoids are lymph tissue 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.

Adenoids

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 removing 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 their mouth because their nose is blocked. Mouth breathing occurs mostly at night, but may be present during the day.

Mouth breathing may lead to the following symptoms:

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 your 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

Treatment

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

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

References

  1. Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 375.

Review Date: 10/18/2013.

Reviewed by: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

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. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

What works?

  • Topical steroids for nasal airway obstruction in children with moderately to severely enlarged adenoidsTopical steroids for nasal airway obstruction in children with moderately to severely enlarged adenoids
    Adenoidal hypertrophy is generally considered a common condition of childhood and represents one of the most frequent indications for surgery in children. In less severe cases, non‐surgical interventions may be considered, however few medical alternatives are currently available. This review was conducted to assess the effectiveness of intranasal corticosteroids for improving nasal airway obstruction in children aged 0 to 12 years with moderate to severe adenoidal hypertrophy. Evidence derived from five of the six randomised controlled trials included in this review suggests that intranasal steroids may significantly improve symptoms of nasal obstruction in children with adenoidal hypertrophy and that this improvement may be associated with the reduction of adenoid size. One study did not find a significant improvement in nasal obstruction symptoms. Further large and high‐quality randomised controlled trials are warranted.
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    Adenoids.

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