Adenoids are small swellings at the back of the nose. They are absent at birth and grow in the first year or two of life. They shrink between ages 7-9. Occasionally they persist but usually disappear by adulthood.
Adenoids are made of lymphoid tissue, just like the tonsils and appendix. Lymphoid tissue contains cells from the immune system but removing a small amount of lymphoid tissue does not prevent your body from fighting germs.
Causes of Procedure
Adenoids can cause a number of different problems.
the adenoids sit at the entrance to the Eustachian tube. This tube is important for ventilation of the ear. We still do not fully understand what causes glue ear but there is increasing evidence that if we remove the adenoids this helps ventilate the ear and makes glue ear less likely to return.
Large adenoids can cause a blocked nose, snoring and a tendency to breathe through the mouth. In severe cases the breathing can be restricted. Children may struggle to breath at night or have pauses in their breathing, obstructive sleep apnoea.
Adenoids can harbour bacteria, this may result in prolonged runny noses.
Runny or blocked noses may improve with antibiotics or occasionally with steroid treatment into the nose. Unfortunately the problems frequently recur when the medication is stopped. If the problems are not too bad then it is often better to simply wait for the adenoids to regress as your child ages. If there are more serious problems such as significant breathing or hearing problems then removal of the adenoids may be recommended.
The operation involves a short general anaesthetic. While your child is asleep the adenoids are removed through the mouth. If your child is having just adenoids removed (or adenoids and grommets) they will go home around three or four hours after the operation. The paediatric nurses will help decide exactly when your child has recovered enough to go home. If they are having their tonsils removed as well then they will stay overnight.
Very rarely children experience some bleeding after their adenoids are removed. This is usually minor. If your child has some bleeding you should contact a doctor. If your child has persistent bleeding you should take them to the nearest accident and emergency department.
After removal of the adenoids children should keep away from school for one week, if the tonsils are removed as well then they should keep away for two weeks. This is to reduce the chance of them picking up an infection from another child.