Maybe your child snores a lot. Maybe your child gets a lot of ear infections or has a lot of sore throats. Maybe your child needs to have his tonsils removed. If so, chances are your child also needs the adenoids removed. Let's talk about adenoid removal, or adenoidectomy.
So, why do the adenoids need to be removed?
The adenoids are glands, located between the airway your child breathes into through their nose, and the back of your child's throat. Like your child's tonsils, the adenoids can often become swollen. When this happens, your child's airway can become blocked, and he may have trouble breathing through his nose. Your child may even stop breathing at times during sleep.
Typically, your child's doctor will use a special mirror to see if the adenoids are swollen. Your child may also need an X-ray. Often a child's swollen adenoids have been a problem for a while. The doctor may have tried to treat the chronic swelling with prescription medications, and if they are still causing problems, perhaps now it's time to remove them.
So, let's go over what happens during an adenoidectomy. Your child will be given general anesthesia. He'll be unconscious and unable to feel pain. The surgeon will prop your child's mouth open with a small instrument, then remove the adenoid glands, and probably remove the tonsils as well.
Your child will probably go home the same day as surgery. Complete recovery takes about one to two weeks. There might be some bleeding in your child's throat or mouth, so you'll want to encourage him to spit the blood out instead of swallowing it. Have him gently gargle often with baking soda mixed with water. Soft foods and cool drinks will make his throat feel better too.
Adenoidectomy is one of the most common reasons children have surgery. But surgery doesn't have to be all bad. Your child can look forward to a steady diet of pudding, ice cream, and other soft and fun foods, until he feels better. And hopefully your child can look forward to fewer sore throats, ear infections, and more normal breathing, in the future.
Review Date: 2/18/2016
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.