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Adenoids

What are adenoids?

Like tonsils, adenoids are lymph nodes in throat but unlike tonsils, adenoids can’t be seen easily through the mouth as these are situated in the nasopharynx region higher behind the nose and close to the roof of the mouth (soft palate).

An infection in adenoids causes their enlargement and breathing through nose becomes quite troublesome. We can suspect an adenoid infection when following symptoms are seen:

  • Breathing through the mouth, especially in children.
  • Noisy breathing in daytime and snoring during night.
  • Voice acquires a nasal tone.

As we stated earlier, adenoids are located high up behind the nose and hence their direct examination is not quite possible. An ENT physician will order an X-ray of the nasopharynx to assess their size and extent of airway blockage by the adenoids.

Adenoids may have to be taken out entirely in cases of chronic adenoiditis. Like a tonsillectomy, adenoids too can be removed using the conventional cold instruments where the surgeon uses his finger to check whether all the adenoidal tissue has been taken out. This is a blind method with some chance that some mass could be left behind, On the other hand, there are advanced equipment such as the microshaver system or the coblator to remove adenoids that take help of endoscopes and lead to total removal of adenoids. Plus, coblation comes with the added benefit of being a near-bloodless procedure.

When both adenoids and tonsils are infected and inflamed, the resulting and rather painful condition is called adenotonsillitis.

Chronic adenotonsillitis in a child needs proper treatment for the following reasons:

    • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can prove a hindrance in the breathing passageways which in turn can lead to disturbed sleep and snoring which can in turn lead to more serious conditions such as sleep pauses (also called sleep apnoea). Plus, the child may get other symptoms such as:
      • Restless sleep with frequent waking up
      • Mood swings
      • Bedwetting
      • Nightmares
      • Abnormal sleepiness
      • Cardiac problems.
    • As enlarged tonsils and adenoids obstruct the nasal passage, the child breathes mostly through mouth which causes a condition called malocclusion in which the teeth do not align properly when the jaw is closed.
    • Chronic enlargement and infection of the adenoids can also cause sinusitis (infection in sinus cavities) and/or blockage of nasal drainage that, in turn, can cause chronic ear infections arising due to inadequate ventilation of Eustachian tube (ear canal).

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