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    Enlarged adenoids

    Adenoids - enlarged

    The adenoids are lymph tissue that sit in your upper airway between your nose and the back of your throat. They are similar to the tonsils.

    Enlarged adenoids means this tissue is swollen.


    Enlarged adenoids may be normal. It may start when the baby grows in the womb. The adenoids help your body prevent or fight infections by removing bacteria and germs.

    Infections can cause the adenoids to become swollen. The adenoids may stay enlarged even when you are not sick.


    Children with enlarged adenoids often breathe through their mouth because their nose is blocked. Mouth breathing occurs mostly at night, but may be seen during the day.

    Mouth breathingmay lead to the following symptoms:

    • Bad breath
    • Cracked lips
    • Dry mouth
    • Persistent runny nose or nasal congestion

    Enlarged adenoids may also cause sleep problems. A child may:

    • Be restless while sleeping
    • Snore a lot
    • Have episodes of not breathing during sleep (sleep apnea)

    Children with enlarged adenoids may also have more frequent ear infections.

    Exams and Tests

    The adenoids cannot be seen by looking in the mouth directly. Your doctor can see them by usinga special mirror inyour mouth or aflexible tube (called an endoscope) placedthrough the nose.

    Tests may include:

    • X-ray of the throat or neck
    • Sleep study


    Many people with enlarged adenoids have few or no symptoms. You may not need treatment.Adenoidsshrink as a child grows older.

    If you have an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

    Surgery to remove the adenoids (adenoidectomy) may be done if the symptoms are severe or persistent.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if your child has difficulty breathing through the nose or other symptoms of enlarged adenoids.


    Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM,Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 375.


    • After your child's tonsi...


    • Throat anatomy


    • Adenoids


    • After your child's tonsi...


    • Throat anatomy


    • Adenoids


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          Review Date: 11/12/2012

          Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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          St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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