Adenoidal hypertrophy (enlarged adenoids)

What are enlarged adenoids?

Adenoids are a mass of tissue similar to the tonsils and lymph nodes that are known as lymphoid tissue. Lymphoid tissue is responsible for producing cells that fight infection in the body. They are found behind the nasal cavity, at the upper part of the throat. Adenoids are present from birth and in childhood, but shrink from the age of 8-12 years and are not usually present in adulthood. If the adenoids become enlarged, they can cause nasal obstruction (blockage) as well as glue ear by blocking the Eustachian tube (drains the middle ear to the back of the nose).

What causes enlarged adenoids?

Adenoids in children can become enlarged if they are infected. They can also become enlarged as a result of allergies. In some cases, infants can be born with already enlarged adenoids.

What are the symptoms?

Some common symptoms include difficulty breathing through the nose, glue ear and sleep apnoea.

What is adenoidectomy?

Adenoidectomy is a surgical procedure that can be performed to remove enlarged adenoids. It is sometimes performed in combination with tonsillectomy and/or grommet insertion if indicated. Adenoidal tissue can, on occasion, become enlarged after adenoidectomy.

Will adenoidectomy affect immunity?

Even though the adenoids form part of the lymphatic system, they can be safely removed without affecting the body’s ability to fight infection. The reason for this is that the body has lots of other lymphoid tissue (lymph nodes) that perform the same function as the adenoids (and tonsils), so removal does not affect the defense mechanism of the body.