Enlarged Adenoid - Symptoms and Treatment

Enlarged Adenoid: A common condition in children

Dr.Satish Chandra profile Authored by Dr.Satish Chandra on 24 Dec 2013 - 16:30.

Is your baby suffering from persistent cold, blocked nose, mouth breathing (keeping the mouth open while sleeping), off and on ear pain and cough? It may be because of Adenoids.

The Adenoid is also known as a pharyngeal tonsil or nasopharyngeal tonsil, which is a lymphoid tissue situated posterior to the nasal cavity, where the nose blends into the throat. When the adenoid is inflamed, it obstructs normal breathing along with the Eustachian tubes (connecting the ears and nose) and make speech difficult in children. It is a common cause ofairway obstruction and recurrent attacks of infection in children.

Normally, in children, it forms a soft mound in the roof and posterior wall of the nasopharynx, just above and behind the uvula. An enlarged adenoid, or adenoid hypertrophy, can become nearly the size of a ping pong ball and completely block airflow through the nasal passages. It grows rapidly till two years of age and remains there up to 14 years of age and regresses rapidly after 15 years.

In early childhood it produces cells that act as antibodies for the immune system, but once it grows bigger in size, it becomes the harboring place for the bacteria  causing infections.

Symptoms manifest when the adenoids enlarge causing nasal obstruction in the form of mouth breathing and snoring along with change in the voice.

Enlargement of the adenoid, especially in children, causes an atypical appearance of the face, often referred to as adenoid face. Features of adenoid facies include open mouth, an elongated face, prominent incisors  and a high arched palate. They have a dull expression and crowded teeth.

Severe obstruction of nasal breathing can also cause sleep disturbances with bed wetting and mental dullness in a child.

The enlarged adenoid obstructing the opening of the Eustachian tubes which ventilates the ear can cause recurrent ear pain and deafness in a child.

Adenoid also acts as a seat of infection causing recurrent attacks of cold, sore throat and ear discharge due to spread of infection to the ear. These can hamper the growth of the child.



Nasal endoscopy is the gold standard, to assess the adenoid enlargement.  In the case where the child is unable to tolerate endoscopy, an X- ray of the neck is helpful.  Adenoid enlargement in childhood is common and self-limiting. Mild symptoms of obstruction are not an indication of surgery. Adenoidectomy is the surgical procedure for removing the adenoids.  It is done when there are severe symptoms causing obstruction and recurrent infections.

*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.