The adenoids are a pair of soft tissue masses located behind the nose. They work with your tonsils to provide your body with its first line of defense. Any bacteria or virus that enters your body through you nose is trapped by the hairs and mucus within the nose and then destroyed by the white blood cells produced by the adenoids. Since they play such a key role in protection, they often come into contact with germs and then become infected.
Enlarged adenoids can block airflow through your nose, which can lead to mouth breathing, snoring and a dry and sore throat. Yellow or green discharge from the nose can also occur. In addition to swollen, infectections can lead to middle ear infections, sinusitis and a chest infection.
Treatment for enlarged adenoids depends on what else has been infected. A common treatment is a full course of antibiotics, as this can get rid of an infection in the middle ear.
If your child is prone to infections in their adenoids, surgery may be recommended. This surgery, called an adenoidectomy, is performed under general anesthesia. Just like tonsils, while they are responsible for fighting germs, there is little research to show you are any less healthy after they are removed. Oftentimes, if the adenoids are being removed the tonsils will also be taken out.
You may have noticed that children are more likely to suffer from infections in their tonsils and adenoids. This is because as you age, they both shrink.