Having a sore throat is a common condition and anyone can be affected by it. One cause of a sore throat is tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils). However, apart from tonsils, there are also adenoids, which are found at the back of the pharynx. Adenoids can also be affected and can cause a series of other infections and breathing difficulties.
What are adenoids?
Adenoids are lymphoid tissues that fight off nasal and oral infections. They also play a role in fighting diseases by producing white blood cells (WBCs). It is hard to spot one's adenoids. Doctors have special instruments to examine your adenoids. Sometimes, they use X-rays.
Adenoids are rare in adults since they usually shrink when children reach their adolescent years and tend to completely disappear by adulthood.
What is adenoiditis?
If your adenoids are inflamed or infected by bacteria or viruses, the condition is known as adenoiditis. Adenoiditis is most commonly experienced by children and rarely seen in adults.
What are the symptoms of adenoiditis?
Depending on the cause, there are various adenoiditis symptoms:
- sore throat
- stuffed up nose
- enlarged neck glands
- pain in the ears
- difficulty in hearing
When you have a stuffy nose, you will have breathing difficulties. The following are symptoms that accompany a stuffy nose:
- speaking as if your nose has been pinched
- having a hard time sleeping because of a clogged nose
- sleep apnea
Removal of Adenoids
You may notice if your child’s adenoid is enlarged. To most children, an adenoid enlargement will not cause any alarm or treatment. To some, however, adenoiditis can cause recurring infections and discomfort that interfere with their daily routines.
The following are instances where the doctor may suggest an adenoidectomy if your child has:
- Breathing difficulties - It is hard for the child to breathe normally through the nose if he or she has swollen adenoids. You may notice that your child breathes through his or her mouth or you may hear sounds while your child is breathing through the nose. Breathing through the mouth can create a dry mouth in children. Moreover, note that eating and at the same time breathing through the mouth can become a problem to the child.
- Difficulty in sleeping - You may notice that your child is snoring hard. In some cases, the child may experience apnea. When their noses are blocked, breathing becomes more difficult during sleep. Sleep apnea causes sleeping difficulties at night and makes someone sleep too much during the day. When your adenoids are enlarged, they are blocked because they become smaller than usual. Your upper airway is, therefore, blocked.
- Persistent ear problems or "glue ear" - When adenoids are enlarged, ear problems are also experienced. The infection in the adenoids may also spread to the ears causing an infection in the Eustachian tubes. The blockage comes in the Eustachian tubes. The Eustachian tube is responsible for balancing the pressure in your ears and is also the sole drainage of the ear. Therefore, your ears can be infected, if there is fluid in the mid-section. This condition is known as "glue ear." If your child cannot clearly hear, his or her learning development and social interaction may be affected. Therefore, it is important that ear infections are diagnosed and treated early. If your doctor observes a recurring interference with your child's hearing for more than five weeks, he or she will recommend an adenoidectomy for your child.
- Recurring nasal and oral infections - Your child’s sinuses may also be affected due to adenoiditis. Adenoiditis can also affect other areas that are connected to the ear.
Adenoids Disappear As We Grow Older
Adenoids are very common between the age of 3 and 5. The adenoids at these stages function as immune boosters. It is likely that when children approach puberty, their tonsils and adenoids also gradually shrink in size. For this reason, it is very rare to hear an adult adenoidectomy. However, some adults also undergo the procedure, especially those who have their adenoids their entire lifetime.
What happens during an adenoidectomy?
An adenoidectomy is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure is usually done as an outpatient case. There are doctors who specialize in adenoidectomy. Very few incisions are required during an adenoidectomy.
Basically, it takes around 45 to 60 minutes to perform an adenoidectomy, but your child may be required to sit around for at least three hours. Depending on the situation of your child, the doctor will advise you on what to do after the procedure.
Recovery After an Adenoidectomy
Your child may experience nausea as a side effect of the anesthesia used during surgery. Up to seven days after the surgery, you may expect the following:
- Sore throat - Your child may experience eating difficulties due to a sore throat, which is expected to last for a maximum of 10 days.
- Fever - Your child’s body temperature might increase days after the surgery. However, make sure to monitor your child's fever that it will not go beyond 102 degrees Fahrenheit and must not be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. If your child has a consistent high fever, you should contact your doctor for further advice.
- Mouth breathing - After the surgery, your child's throat would be enlarged. Thus, it is expected that your child breathes through his or her mouth. Breathing through one's mouth, however, should be observed in less than two weeks. If difficulty in breathing persists after two weeks, immediately contact your doctor.
- Pain - Your doctor will give your child painkillers, which should last for a few weeks after the surgery. The pain should be specific to the throat or ears. If you notice any other painful areas apart from your child's throat and ears, consult your doctor.
- Scabs in the mouth - Where tonsils or adenoids are removed, scabs bud. The thick and white scabs should fall off in less than ten days. Just be careful that your child doesn’t pick them back as they may cause bad breath.
For an easier recovery from an adenoidectomy, the following are some ideas that may help your child:
- For up to 24 hours after the surgery, do not serve your child dairy products such as milk, chocolates, yogurt, etc.
- Your child should drink plenty of water since dehydration is common after the surgery.
- Serve your child a soft diet to alleviate the pain while swallowing.
- Ensure that your child gets plenty of rest, especially five days after the surgery.
- Your child should go back to school as soon as he or she can comfortably eat normal food.
Adenoidectomy: Warning Signs
If your child is persistently bleeding from the nose or mouth after surgery, you should take him or her to the doctor immediately. You may expect stains of blood in your child's saliva, but an excessive bleeding may mean that the scabs have fallen off and should be attended to immediately.
If your child makes a whizzing sound after surgery, you should also immediately consult the doctor since the unusual sound may mean that there is an abnormal swelling. Make sure that you contact your doctor if you observe anything abnormal after your child's surgery.
You should ask as many questions as possible before you have your child operated. In case you are not content with your doctor’s explanation, you can seek advice from another doctor.