Enlarged Adenoids


Adenoids are lymph tissue in upper airway. This immune tissue can produce immunoglobulin, which is very important for the body. However, the tissue can swell up and get inflamed. This swelling as a condition is called adenoids. It’s more correct name is enlarged adenoids. Adenoids are present in children ages 3 to 7.

There are three stages of swelling depending on adenoid size. Enlarged adenoids make it difficult to breathe through nose and children start breathing through their mouth. For instance, in the first stage, children breathe through their mouth and at night, since it is more difficult to do in horizontal position, they begin wheezing. In the third stage, children breathe with their mouth all day long and snore at night.

Causes include:

  • Infections
  • Frequent colds
  • Allergies

Symptoms include:

  • Bad breathing
  • Discharges from nose
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness at night caused by bad breathing
  • Inertia, apathy, tiredness result from lack of sleep

Regular breathing through mouth may lead to child’s bone deformation. Anemia may come from lack of oxygen.

Enlarged adenoids may result in regular otitis, runny nose, acute respiratory infections, and other ENT infections.


Often an ENT specialist will offer to remove adenoids. However, some specialists disagree with this, since pharyngeal tonsil plays an important role in body’s resistance against infectious bacteria. In addition, adenoid tissue can restore. This means, it’s practically impossible to remove all adenoids and often the surgery is performed again. Thus, many doctors prefer conservative treatment. Operative approach is used only when conservative treatment proves ineffective.

Remarkably, adenoids start shrinking beginning from ages 8 or 9. Most children have no adenoids by age 14 and earlier.