Enlarged adenoids – Causes, symptoms, and management

Enlarged adenoids – Causes, symptoms, and management

Adenoids are lymphatic tissues in the upper airway between the nasal cavity and the back of the throat. They are quite similar to the tonsils but tend to shrink after the age of 16. In children, adenoids help in fighting off the germs that enter through the mouth and nose, making them a part of the immune system. However, the tissue is prone to inflammation and swelling, leading to enlarged adenoids that can cause discomfort.

Causes and risk factors
Adenoids grow as the fetus develops in the womb. Adenoids provide immunity against germs, and they can become larger when trying to fight infection. The lymph tissue mass can stay enlarged even after the infection has subsided. Enlarged adenoids are a common problem in children. If the child tends to snore a lot and has a sore throat or ear infection, there is a good chance that the kid is dealing with swollen adenoids. As children get older, adenoids are supposed to shrink and eventually disappear. However, if they continue to grow, they can cause problems like blocking the airways and making one frequently breathe through their mouth instead of the nose. Here, one is at a higher risk of one being unable to breathe well while sleeping. Adenoids usually become enlarged due to some kind of virus or bacterial attack, parasitic infections, and fungal infections. Some of the common pathogens responsible for this condition include influenza virus, herpes simplex virus, adenovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, mycoplasma, group A beta-hemolytic streptococci, Neisseria gonorrhea, and Haemophilus influenza Type B.

Children dealing with tonsil infections or enlarged tonsils and frequent infections in the nose, ears, throat, and head are more likely to experience enlarged adenoids.

Children with enlarged or inflamed adenoids often breathe through their mouths as their nostrils are blocked. This usually happens while sleeping. The condition can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Noisy or strained breathing
  • Breathing more through the mouth than the nose
  • A persistent runny nose
  • Frequent colds
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Dry mouth
  • Chapped lips
  • Persistent nasal congestion and runny nose

As one is unable to sleep well when dealing with enlarged adenoids, they may also experience the following sleep-related issues:

  • Excessive snoring
  • Restlessness while sleeping
  • Episodes of halted breathing during sleep, also known as sleep apnea
  • Sleeping in an awkward position with the head bent back and knees pulled up to the chest while lying on the front

Enlarged adenoids are a cause for concern when one experiences serious issues like:

  • Recurring sinus infections
  • Chronic ear infections or hearing loss
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

During the examination, the doctor uses a special mirror to look for enlarged adenoids. They may also recommend an X-ray. If the adenoids are not swollen, they are likely to shrink as the child grows older. The healthcare practitioner might prescribe antibiotics and nasal sprays if they detect an infection. They might even suggest surgery to remove the adenoids if the symptoms seem to be severe. Some common treatment options to reduce swelling and pain include throat lozenges, nasal sprays, and increased fluid intake.

Adenoidectomy: Adenoidectomy is the surgical procedure to remove adenoids. Here, the mouth is held open with a small instrument to remove the adenoid glands. The child is discharged on the same day of the surgery, and the recovery might take about one to two weeks. After the operation, one might experience some bleeding. Here, one should spit the blood out instead of swallowing it.

Remedies and lifestyle changes: As a home remedy, a baking soda and water gargle can help one relieve symptoms of enlarged adenoids. Further, with the help of soft foods and some cold drinks, the throat may begin to feel better. Healthy foods, plenty of water, and enough sleep can keep the immune system active and reduce the risk of enlarged adenoids. Further, parents should ensure that their child practices good personal hygiene to avoid contracting frequent infections.

Adenoid, the tissue mass at the junction of the throat and nose, functions as part of the lymphatic and immune systems. The glands enlarge around the age of two to four years and can cause problems like snoring, mouth breathing, nasal drainage, sinusitis, ear problems, and nasal speech. Sometimes, enlarged adenoids might shrink on their own and not lead to any complications. Here, the doctor may not recommend treatment options or suggest using a nasal spray to relieve any discomfort. However, when one observes one or more symptoms of enlarged adenoids, they should consult a doctor to find a suitable treatment plan.

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