People get sore throat all the time. Sometimes, the tonsils even get infected. But did you know that the tonsils are not the only glands inside the mouth that are vulnerable to infection? So are the Adenoids.
What Are Adenoids and Adenoiditis?
Adenoids refer to a mass of tissue that helps the tonsils in keeping you healthy. They are located in the upper part of the mouth, specifically on the roof of the mouth just behind the nose. They trap harmful germs that go through the mouth or nose. These tissues produce antibodies so that your system will be able to fight infections effectively. When these glands become infected, the resulting condition is called Adenoiditis. It's very painful and it makes breathing difficult.
While the tonsils are visible when you open your mouth, the adenoids are not. A doctor would need to use a special instrument with light along with a small mirror to see these. In other times, X-ray may be required.
As you get older, the importance of these tissues lessens as the body learns new ways to fight infection. By the time a child reaches the age of five or six, the adenoids become smaller. They virtually disappear by the time a child hits teenage years.
When Does Adenoiditis Occur?
The primary purpose of the adenoids is to filter out germs but it sometimes happens that they also become infected when they are overwhelmed by bacteria. The result is swelling and inflammation of the adenoids, which as mentioned earlier is referred to as adenoiditis. This condition is more common in children but can also sometimes affect adults.
What Are the Symptoms of Adenoiditis?
Symptoms vary depending on the cause of infection.
Common symptoms include:
- ear pain
- sore throat
- stuffy nose
- difficulty sleeping
- breathing difficulties
- swollen glands in the neck
- breathing through the mouth
- speaking with nasal sound as if the nose is being pinched
- sleep apnea (a condition wherein a person stops breathing for a short period of time while asleep)
How is this Condition Treated?
Antibiotics are the primary method of treatment for this condition.
For more serious cases, a surgical procedure called adenoidectomy may be needed.
- if antibiotics do not help
- if the patient suffers from severe breathing difficulties
- if a patient has frequent infections that include ear and sinus infections
Since adenoiditis and tonsillitis often occur together, tonsillectomy or removal of tonsils through surgery may also be advised by the doctor.
What Happens During the Surgery?
The surgical procedure of adenoidectomy is performed by a doctor who specializes in the surgery of ear, nose, and throat. It can be performed in the hospital or outpatient surgical center. General anesthesia is used so the patient will be asleep during the procedure. The tonsils and adenoids are removed through the mouth. No incisions are made except in the areas where the tissues are removed. Some patients are able to go home four to five hours after the surgery.