Adenoids are mass of tissue located beside the nose and behind the roof of the mouth (higher up in the mouth). Adenoids trap harmful germs that move through the nose or mouth. They also produce antibodies and impart immunity to fight infections. Adenoids are not clearly visible – and therefore, a doctor uses a special instrument to see them closely. Adenoids are seen predominantly during 2 to 5 years age. They gradually shrink in size after age 5 to 6 years and eventually disappear by teenage.
Adenoiditis: In addition to tonsils, these glands also filter out germs, but are vulnerable to infection and inflammation – adenoiditis. Inflamed and enlarged adenoid can lead to recurrent respiratory tract infections and breathing difficulties. Adenoiditis is common in children – and also affects adults sometimes.
Tonsils can be seen easily, but adenoids are difficult to locate with the naked eyes. ENT specialists use special instruments with light to see adenoids. They may sometimes recommend X-rays to see adenoids more clearly.
Role in Immunity: Adenoids play an important role in imparting immunity in children but become less significant in adults as the body develop other means to fight infections. Owing to this reason, adenoids get smaller by the age five or six years and literally disappear by early and late teen years.
Symptoms: Recurrent Cold and respiratory tract infections – the symptoms associated with adenoiditis mimic cold or sinusitis symptoms but may vary according to the cause of infection. The symptoms include stuffy nose, sore throat, ear pain or other ear issues, breathing through the mouth, dry mouth due to mouth breathing, swollen glands in the neck, speaking with nasal sound, nasal congestion, breathing difficulty, snoring and sleep apnea and sleeping difficulty.
Treatment for Adenoiditis: Initially an ENT surgeon may prescribe antibiotics to treat the condition. However, patients with recurrent respiratory tract infections, sinus infections and ear infections with ongoing breathing issues may be treated by surgery. Surgery is recommended when the problem cannot be cured by antibiotics or when antibiotics do not work. The procedure to remove adenoids is known as adenoidectomy. Children often suffer from both tonsillitis and adenoiditis at the same time. Therefore, doctors may recommend the removal of both tonsils and adenoids at the same time. The surgery to remove tonsils is known as tonsillectomy.
Adenoidectomy: Adenoidectomy is performed by an ENT surgeon under general anaesthesia. It is usually performed in a multi-speciality hospital. If the surgeon deems necessary to remove both the tonsils and adenoids, then he or she performs both the procedures and removes the tissues through the mouth. The procedure is minimally invasive as no additional incisions are made from where the glands are removed. The patient can go home after staying in the hospital for around five to six hours. During this period the child is carefully monitored.