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Adenoidectomy is a common procedure. Although almost always performed on pre-teenage children, there may be some times when older children or even adults require the procedure. It is usually done for longstanding nasal congestion (because the adenoids are ‘plugging’ the nose), chronic infection (whether in the adenoids or sinuses), as part of a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy for obstructive sleep apnea, or as an additional procedure when ventilating tubes are inserted – although there are many other reasons.

Why do people develop adenoid problems?

There are many different reasons why people develop adenoid problems. Probably, many which are currently unknown. A combination of exposure to infectious agents combined with a genetic predisposition to having enlargement of the adenoids goes some way to providing an explanation.

What are the signs and symptoms of adenoid problems?

The range of symptoms depends on the size of the adenoids and the involvement of other structures. Symptoms can ranges from mild to moderate problems with breathing through the nose to complete nasal obstruction. In the severest forms, when combined with enlargement of the tonsils, obstructive sleep apnea can result (a condition where the breathing passage is completely blocked off and sleep becomes restless). When associated with ear problems, recurrent infections or longstanding fluid in the ears are the usual symptoms.

The Surgery

Surgery takes about 15 minutes or so and is done in several different ways, depending on the preference of the surgeon and equipment available at the institution. Common ways currently used by surgeons include curettage, electrocautery, and microdebrider, although many others methods exist.

It is best to speak with your otolaryngologist before the surgery about the method he or she chooses to employ and its risks and benefits.

After the operation…

Mild to moderate discomfort is to be expected for a couple of days. Again, depending on the surgical method and preference of the surgeon, return to activity usually occurs within a few days, although many surgeons will restrict swimming and/or major physical activity for a week or more.

Can the adenoids grow back?

It is possible for adenoids to grow back, although that is reasonably rare. Regrowth seems to be more common when the adenoids are taken out in a child at a very early age.

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