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What Is An Adenoid?

The adenoids are small glands located at the back of the throat. These glands produce white blood cells to help fight infections. Normally, the adenoids shrink as a person grows older and completely disappear by adulthood. In some cases, the adenoids can become enlarged and swollen. When this happens, an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist may recommend an adenoidectomy, or removal of the adenoids. There are 3 main reasons to consider getting the surgery.

1. You have difficulty breathing

When the adenoids swell, breathing becomes difficult. A common sign that the adenoids are enlarged is when a person breathes only through the mouth instead of the nose. This swelling can also lead to difficulty swallowing and a chronic sore throat.

2. You can’t get rid of ear infections

The most common reason patients get adenoidectomies is to treat chronic ear infections. When these glands are enlarged, the adenoids can block the eustachian tubes. Chronic ear infections and blocked Eustachian tubes can have long-term health repercussions. To avoid hearing loss, consult with an ENT about possible adenoid removal.

3. Your adenoids are contributing to sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that causes momentary lapses in breathing during sleep. Sometimes, the airway obstruction is due to enlarged adenoids. In these cases, a doctor may recommend adenoid removal.

When to schedule surgery

Most commonly, adenoidectomies are performed on children. An ENT may recommend adenoid removal if a child has frequent ear infections, equaling 5-6 per year. Adenoidectomy may also be necessary if the ear infections don’t respond to antibiotics and cause frequent absences from school or work.

What happens during the procedure?

Often, surgeons will remove both the adenoids and the tonsils at the same time. Typically, an adenoidectomy occurs in an outpatient setting, meaning patients can return home the same day. Under general anesthesia, the doctor uses a device to prop the mouth open. The surgeon then removes the adenoids through small incisions or by cauterizing the area.

Recovery time

Typically, patients go home the same day of the procedure. Patients can expect to have a sore throat for 2-3 weeks after the surgery. During this time, doctors recommend eating easy, soft foods such as ice cream, pudding, apple sauce, or warm chicken broth. Avoid spicy or crunchy foods until the throat feels better.

Should I consider adenoid removal?

The outlook after an adenoidectomy is extremely positive. The procedure has been used for a long time and can help children breathe easier. The treatment is highly effective for recurrent earaches. To learn more, speak with an ENT.