What to Expect After an Adenoidectomy

What to Expect After an Adenoidectomy

What Are Adenoids?

The adenoids are found in the upper back part of the mouth known as nasopharynx. You cannot possibly see adenoids through the nose. They are more like the tonsils. They also produce white cells which help fight harmful germs that get into the body through the nose or the mouth. Since they fight infections, they are also exposed to these infections. Adenoids may get enlarged, a condition known as adenoiditis.

What Are the Symptoms of Adenoiditis?

Some symptoms of adenoiditis occur abruptly while others may build gradually. The most known symptoms of adenoiditis may include the following conditions:

  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Breathing noisily
  • Snoring loud
  • Speaking through the nose
  • Breathing stops at times in the night

When Adenoids Need to Be Removed

When a child has infections on his/her adenoid, or when it is large or inflamed because of allergies, your doctor may ask you to opt for an adenoidectomy operation.

Most of the time, your child may not need treatment if the adenoids are infected as they cause very little discomfort and heal on their own. Therefore, you and your doctor will weigh options and alternatives. Removal of the adenoid may only be necessary if it interferes with your child’s life. I.e. if the child experiences:

  • Breathing through the mouth and not through the nose.
  • Dry mouth and cracked lips because of breathing problems.
  • Sleeping apnea
  • Hearing difficulties or Eustachian infections
  • Sleeping problems during the night and fatigue during the day.
  • A constantly runny nose

How an Adenoidectomy Is Carried Out

When your doctor decides that your adenoids be removed, the procedure is called adenoidectomy. The operation is carried out by a doctor specialized in handling the ear, nose, and the throat (ENT). It should last around 45 minutes. After the operation your doctor may ask you and your child to stay around 2 hours in the hospital before you leave. This is for the anesthetic to clear out from your child’s body.

Your child should be discharged on the same day in most cases if the operation is performed in the morning. You may be discharged the next day if the operation is scheduled later in the day.

Before the Operation 

You should inform your doctor of your child’s health history. In case the child had coughs or cold within 7 days to the operation, it is important to let your doctor know. Cases like fever or pressure may make the date of operation to reschedule for several weeks. The child should be in stable health conditions to avoid infections or any complication that may arise during surgery.

The Procedure

Your child will be served general anesthetic which means he or she will be asleep during the operation. This ensures that your child will have a painless experience during the procedure.

The child’s mouth will be held open for the location of the adenoids. After necessary positioning, the doctor will apply heat on them or will crush them off with a curette. In case the doctor uses heat to burn the adenoids, a diathermy instrument is inserted and exposed to the adenoids. Cauterization is performed to stop the adenoids from bleeding after this, and the operation is generally complete.


Your child may also be experiencing tonsillitis. Sometimes both tonsils and adenoids may need to be removed at the same time. In case you perform both tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, the procedure is known as Adenotonsillectomy.


Grommets are pressure tubes that are put into your ear drum during adenoidectomy. They are used to drain the fluids that may be in your Eustachian tubes. This is used to correct a condition known as glue ear.

The Recovery Process

An adenoidectomy is just like any other surgery. Expect that your child will experience some pain and sore throat. Your doctor will give you instructions and medication to control the pain. It is recommended that you follow his or her prescriptions and advise to the letter to avoid further complications. In the post-surgery period you may notice:

Nausea - general anesthetics may leave your child with nausea. Nausea should not last long except for a few cases where patients have reported nausea even up to 2 days after surgery. You should avoid giving your child dairy products for at least a day. Avoid giving your child solid foods until their nausea goes away.

Dehydration/Dry mouth - your child will have to consume a lot of water since the surgery is most likely to leave them dehydrated. You can give your child other liquids too but avoid liquid with a lot of sugars and acids. They may irritate the child’s throat.

Fever - you may experience a drop in your child’s temperature. Please contact your doctor if the temperature exceeds 102 F.

Sore throat - your child will experience sore throats because of scarring on the incisions in the throat. You are advised to serve your child softer food since the child may experience discomfort.

Mouth breathing - within 10 days after surgery, the throat may be enlarged and your child will have to breathe through their mouth until the swelling reduces.

Scabs - after the removal of adenoids, there are scabs that remain in the mouth. The scabs will clear off within 10 days after the surgery. You should warn your child not to remove the scabs. You should also prevent the child from picking them. The scabs may be very annoying in the first few days but are essential for the healing of the throat.


Though very rare, there are a few risks both during and after an adenoidectomy. The following are risks associated with adenoidectomy:

  • Minor problems after surgery

After the removal of the adenoids your child may experience the following conditions:

  • Sore throat
  • Pain in the ears
  • Stiffened jaws
  • Runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  • Change in voice

The mentioned conditions pose no need for alarm or medication except for some rare cases.


In any surgery there is risk of infection. An infection may occur if there are bacteria around the area where the adenoids are removed.

Ensure your child recovers fully before exposing them to the public like schools. In case of infections, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics for your child.

Pain Relief

Your doctor will prescribe pain killers to help your child control pain after the surgery. You may also purchase over-the-counter paracetamol for your child.

Eating and Drinking

Your child should not have any difficulty consuming fluids and liquids after the surgery. Eating however should start several hours after the surgery.

You should have your child eating softer foods because eating normally may be difficult. You can give the child pain killers 30 to 45 minutes before eating. Doing so may reduce throat pain during meals.

Resting After Adenoid Surgery

To recover faster from adenoids removal surgery, you need to hydrate the body frequently. You also need enough rest to recover properly. You should be there for your child to help them relax their minds since this will also help them recover faster.

Once your child is able to eat normally again, you can allow them to resume school. You should also ensure the pain after surgery is gone and your child sleeps regularly at night. The important thing is to give your child time to heal.