When we think about the first line of defense against infection we often think about the tonsils; however, the adenoids also play a part in protecting against infection. Together the tonsils and adenoids make up the lymphatic system and stop viruses and bacteria from entering the mouth and nose. While the tonsils are found in the back of the throat the adenoids sit in the far back of the throat behind the nose. Unfortunately, just as tonsils can get infected and cause problems, so too can adenoids.
What causes enlarged adenoids?
Since adenoids frequently come into contact with germs, it’s common for adenoids to swell a bit to get rid of an infection. Allergies also have the ability to cause enlarged adenoids. While the swelling will often go away on its own, there are instances where the swelling can actually turn into an infection.
What are the symptoms of enlarged adenoids?
While tonsil problems will mostly affect the throat, if you are dealing with enlarged adenoids most of the symptoms are concentrated in the nasal cavity. Those with enlarged adenoids may experience:
- Trouble breathing through the nose
- Mouth breathing
- Dry lips and mouth (as a result of mouth breathing)
- Persistent bad breath
- Chronic or persistent sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Obstructive sleep apnea (pauses in the breath that happening while asleep)
Should I have my adenoids removed?
It’s important to talk with your ENT doctor if you or your child are dealing with persistent symptoms of enlarged adenoids. We will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing and go through your medical history to determine whether you could benefit from an adenoidectomy. It may be time to considering having your adenoids removed if:
- You are dealing with obstructive sleep apnea or poor sleep as a result of enlarged adenoids
- You are dealing with recurring, antibiotic-resistant ear infections
- You have recurring adenoid infections that don’t respond to medication
- Your symptoms are impacting your life, including work or school performance
In some cases, your ENT doctor may recommend getting both the adenoids and tonsils removed at the same time.
If you or your child is dealing with enlarged adenoids or other problems that affect your breathing, you must see an ENT doctor that can provide you with the treatment you need.