What is Adenoiditis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2019
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Adenoiditis is an inflammation of the lymphatic tissue in the back of the throat known as the adenoids. Along with the tonsils, the adenoids are designed to prevent mouth and throat infections by trapping infectious material so that it can be destroyed and expressed from the body. This same trait can make these tissues vulnerable to infection if an accumulation of material builds up. Adenoiditis is most commonly seen among children and there are several treatment options available.

In a patient with adenoiditis, the symptoms can be quite variable. It is common for the patient to have difficulty breathing because the nose is partially blocked. The patient may breathe through the mouth and experience sleep apnea, where breathing temporarily stops during sleep because of the blockage. Ear infections and ear aches can occur, along with bad breath, sore throat, nasal stuffiness, and a discharge from the nose.

In a physical examination, a doctor will be able to see that the adenoids are swollen and inflamed. The neighboring tonsils may also show signs of inflammation. Many infections run their course naturally and require no supportive treatment. In other cases, medications can be prescribed to kill the organisms causing the infection, reduce the inflammation, and relieve pain. While the inflammation is ongoing, patients may prefer to drink relatively bland fluids and soups instead of trying to eat solid foods.


If the adenoids remain persistently inflamed or the patient experiences extreme discomfort, an adenoidectomy may be recommended. In this surgical procedure, the adenoids are removed altogether. Doctors recommend this as a last resort, because the adenoids do serve a function in the body. Recurrent or chronic adenoiditis may only be treatable with surgery to remove the adenoids. After surgery, the patient will need to take antibiotics to prevent infection and may need to eat a mild diet for several days while the throat recovers.

Usually, a general practitioner can successfully diagnose and treat adenoiditis. If the patient experiences severe symptoms, an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician may be involved in evaluation and treatment. Patients who develop ear infections, blockages, or discharges as a result of inflammation in the adenoids may be referred to an ENT for treatment as these medical professionals have a high level of experience with ear care. ENTs can also perform surgery, if necessary, to remove the inflamed adenoids or to address problems, such as blocked Eustachian tubes leading to ear infections.



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