Adenoids and tonsils are often talked about together. You can
see your tonsils in the back of your throat, but where are your
adenoids? For that matter, what are your adenoids? Let's find
What Are Adenoids?
-eh-noids) are lumpy clusters of spongy tissue that help protect
kids from getting sick. They sit high on each side of the throat
behind the nose and the roof of the mouth. Although you can easily
see your tonsils by standing in front of a mirror and opening your
mouth wide, you can't see your adenoids this way. A doctor has
to use a small mirror or a special scope to get a peek at your
Like tonsils, adenoids help keep your body healthy by trapping
harmful bacteria and viruses that you breathe in or swallow.
Adenoids also contain cells that make antibodies to help your body
fight infections. Adenoids do important work as infection fighters
for babies and little kids. But they become less important once a
kid gets older and the body develops other ways to fight germs.
Some doctors believe that adenoids may not be important at all
after kids reach their third birthday. In fact, adenoids usually
shrink after about age 5, and by the teenage years they often
When Adenoids Swell
Because adenoids trap germs that enter a kid's body, adenoid
tissue sometimes temporarily swells (gets puffier) as it tries to
fight off an infection. The swelling might go away on its own, but
sometimes medical treatment is necessary. Adenoids can get so
walloped by a bacterial invasion that they become infected
Swollen or enlarged adenoids are common. When this happens, the
tonsils get swollen, too. Swollen or infected adenoids can make it
tough for a kid to breathe and cause these problems:
- a very stuffy nose, so the kid can breathe only through his
or her mouth
- snoring and trouble getting a good night's sleep
- sore throat and trouble swallowing
- swollen glands in the neck
- ear problems
Tell a grownup if you have any of these problems, so he or she
can take you to the doctor.
What Will the Doctor Do?
At the doctor's office, the doctor will ask you how things
feel in your ears, nose, and throat, and then take a look at these
parts. Your doctor will listen to your breathing by using a
-ah-scope) and may also feel your neck near your jaw.
Your doctor may use a small mirror or a bendable light to look
at your adenoids, and might even send you for an X-ray to get a
really close look at things. If it looks your adenoids are
infected, the doctor may give you an antibiotic (a germ-fighting
medicine) to take.
When Adenoids Come Out
Sometimes doctors recommend removing the adenoids if medicine
doesn't help and they are making a kid sick a lot. This means
going into the hospital and having surgery. Sometimes, a kid's
tonsils and adenoids are removed at the same time. That's
-teh-me). Both are common surgeries for kids to have.
During these surgeries, kids get special medicine that makes
them fall asleep and ensures that they don't feel any pain
while the operation is being done. Usually, neither operation
requires stitches. The cut areas will heal on their own. It takes a
little time, though. After surgery, a kid will have a sore throat
and will need to eat soft foods for a while.
Most kids are feeling back to normal after about a week. And do
they miss their adenoids? Not one bit!
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2006
Originally reviewed by:
Neil Izenberg, MD
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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