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Alternative Names Return to topAdenoids - enlarged
Definition Return to top
Enlarged adenoids refers to swollen lymphatic tissue in the back of the nose. The tissue is similar to the tonsils.
Causes Return to top
Enlargement of the adenoids may occur naturally (beginning when the baby grows in the womb), or it may be caused by long-term inflammation.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
The adenoids cannot be seen by looking in the mouth directly, but can be seen with a special mirror or using a flexible endoscope through the nose.
Tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Surgical removal of the adenoids (adenoidectomy) will prevent complications, and will cure complications if they already exist from enlarged adenoids. Antibiotics may be used to treat tonsil, adenoid, and sinus infections when they occur.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Full recovery is expected.
Possible Complications Return to top
Enlarged adenoids can cause health-threatening conditions such as chronic ear infections, sleep apnea, pulmonary hypertension, and right-sided heart failure.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if your child has difficulty breathing through the nose or other symptoms of enlarged adenoids.
Prevention Return to top
Treating throat infections early may prevent the adenoids from becoming enlarged from long-term infection and inflammation. Removing the adenoids prevents long-term airway blockage.Update Date: 12/1/2008 Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.