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Understanding Enlarged Adenoids: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment




Have you ever wondered how your child tackles air germs each day? Well, those often overlooked little guardians at the back of your child's nose, called adenoids, play a crucial role in warding off bacteria and viruses. However, when they grow too big, they can lead to health issues. Thus, understanding adenoids is vital for parents and individuals alike.

This blog covers adenoid functions, appearance, common conditions, and treatments. Understand how healthcare professionals assess and address these issues for your definitive guide to adenoid health.

What are Adenoids?

Adenoids are small, soft tissues located at the back of your child's nose, behind the roof of their mouth. These structures are part of the immune system and play a crucial role in protecting the body against bacteria and viruses, especially during childhood until your child's body finds a way to tackle infections.

What are Facts About Adenoids?

Here are some interesting facts about adenoids:

  • Adenoids are the largest in children, reaching full size by age 5.
  • They naturally shrink by age 7 or 8 and may disappear with adulthood.
  • Positioned above the tonsils, adenoids are not visible when looking at the back of the throat.
  • Adenoids and tonsils together form a vital part of the immune system.
  • They act as a defence against bacteria and viruses entering the body through the nose.

What do Adenoids Do?

Adenoids play a crucial role in immune response, with white blood cells entering to identify and neutralise harmful microorganisms. As a hub for antibody production, adenoids target and eliminate germs, forming a robust shield against infections and enhancing overall immune resilience.

Where Are Your Adenoids Located?

Your child's adenoids are situated at the back of the nasal cavity, above the throat and behind the nose. This adenoid's location in your child's body is crucial in combating potential germs that enter the body through the nose.

What Do Your Adenoids Look Like?

Adenoids are not visible without specialised tools but are typically pinkish and spongy. Their texture allows them to trap and filter out germs.

How Big Are Your Adenoids?

Adenoid size varies, being larger in childhood and naturally shrinking with age—an average adenoid measures 6.2 millimetres, while enlarged adenoids are around 11.6 millimetres. However, enlarged adenoids are caused due to various reasons, such as bacterial and viral infections.

What Are Your Adenoids Made Of?

Behind their unassuming appearance, adenoids are made of lymphoid tissue. This tissue contains cells (white blood cells) that actively contribute to fighting bacteria and viruses by producing antibodies.

What Are Some Common Conditions That Can Affect Adenoids?

Although adenoids work hard to filter germs from your child's body, they can sometimes be overrun by bacteria, causing enlarged or infections. Thus, they become inflamed and enlarged. Here are a few enlarged adenoids causes :

  • Ear infections can happen often.
  • Upper respiratory infections can occur frequently.
  • Nosebleeds that keep coming back.
  • Frequently dealing with enlarged adenoids caused by allergies to substances found in air or food.

What Are Some Common Signs or Symptoms of Enlarged Adenoids?

Recognising the signs of enlarged adenoid symptoms is very important. Enlarged adenoid symptoms may include:

  • Congested or blocked nasal passages.
  • Breathing difficulties through the nose.
  • Dry mouth and cracked lips due to breathing issues.
  • Glue ear is a condition where fluid buildup in the middle ear causes hearing problems.
  • Sleep disturbances and difficulties.
  • Snoring during sleep.
  • Persistent sore throat.
  • Challenges with swallowing.
  • Swollen neck glands.
  • Sleep apnea, which means pauses in breathing during sleep.

How Do Doctors Check the Health of My Child's Adenoids?

The doctor will inquire about your child's symptoms and conduct a physical examination.

Imaging Tests

X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans are utilised to gain a detailed view of your child's nasal passages, sinuses, and adenoids.

Sleep Studies

If enlarged adenoids contribute to obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, a sleep study may be recommended to monitor and assess your child's sleep patterns. During this study, your child sleeps overnight at a facility while breathing and brain activity are monitored with electrodes.

Nasal Endoscopy

The doctor directly views the adenoids using a unique mirror and a flexible telescope (endoscope) inserted through the nose. This helps determine inflamed, red, or enlarged adenoids.

Bacteria Throat Culture Test

A throat culture test helps the doctor figure out if an infection is causing the enlarged adenoids by identifying the specific bacteria or organisms.

If the results are positive, the doctor will decide on the enlarged adenoid treatment.

How are Enlarged Adenoids Treated?

Enlarged adenoid treatment depends on the cause and severity. Your doctor may prescribe medications or recommend adenoidectomy – the surgical removal of the enlarged adenoids – in severe cases.

Treat the Underlying Condition

Your doctor addresses the underlying conditions for enlarged adenoids caused by infections or allergies. Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infections, antihistamines for allergies, and nasal steroids may be recommended to shrink the enlarged adenoids.


If non-surgical measures fail or your child's enlarged adenoids cause frequent issues, an adenoidectomy may be recommended. This outpatient procedure, performed under general anaesthesia, involves removing the adenoids, often alongside a tonsillectomy. Recovery typically takes two to three days following the adenoidectomy.


It is common for children to have enlarged adenoids. However, it is essential to consult your doctor if you notice any signs of enlarged adenoid symptoms in your child. Also, beware of enlarged adenoid causes and take precautions. In most cases, they can be treated with simple medications; if not, your doctor will treat the condition through simple outpatient surgical procedures. When exploring adenoid health, choose Metropolis Labs for thorough diagnostic services. Our focus on accuracy and expertise guarantees precise assessments for your well-being.

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