Read during a tonsillectomy because the tonsils

Read this lesson to learn what an adenoid is along with why we have them and what problems they can cause. You will also learn what can be done to remedy those problems.

What is an Adenoid?

An adenoid is a small gland made of tissue that forms behind the nasal cavity. We have them to help keep us healthy, especially during childhood when the body is rapidly growing and developing.Everyone has adenoids at some point in their life because they are present from birth. They are part of the body’s immune system and made up of lymph tissue.

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They produce white blood cells that help fight off infections in infants and toddlers. Usually, adenoids are larger during early childhood, begin shrinking in size around the age of 5, and then disappear completely by adulthood. It’s like your body has a secret defense system you didn’t even know about!

The adenoids are found in the area shaded in green.

Most of the time, adenoids are helpful glands that don’t cause us any harm.

But sometimes, they can become enlarged or infected, and that’s when they might cause problems. Let’s take a look at those now.

Problems with the Adenoids

The most common problem a person experiences with the adenoids is when they become swollen or enlarged. Why does this happen? Well, any infection in the throat can cause the adenoids to swell because they are producing more white blood cells to fight the infection.

This is called adenoiditis. Sometimes this swelling goes away on its own, but other times, the adenoids become infected themselves.Enlarged adenoids can cause a number of symptoms. They may hinder breathing through the nose, cause a sore throat, make it difficult to swallow, or even cause ear pain or ear infections. Other symptoms may include swollen glands in the neck, snoring, or trouble sleeping.

When left untreated, the infection can spread to the lungs, causing pneumonia or bronchitis. Chronic problems like ear infections can eventually cause hearing loss, so kids who experience many infections are usually watched closely.


When a child has chronic problems, the adenoids can be surgically removed in a procedure called an adenoidectomy. Actually, adenoids are often removed during a tonsillectomy because the tonsils and the adenoids are so closely related and often become infected at the same time. There are minimal risks associated with these procedures, and they are relatively common in children.For acute problems, antibiotics might be used to treat bacterial infections.

Lesson Summary

The adenoids are small glands made of lymph tissue that are found behind the nasal cavities of infants and young children. They work as part of the immune system and help the body fight off infections.Usually, the adenoids disappear by adulthood and don’t cause any problems; however, sometimes they can become enlarged or infected and become problematic. Infected adenoids can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, ear pain or infections, and trouble swallowing. They can also cause snoring or lead to more serious infections. Adenoids can be surgically removed during a procedure called an adenoidectomy; this is usually the treatment for chronic adenoid infections.

Acute infections caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics.Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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