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Enlarged adenoids


Alternative Names:

Adenoids - enlarged

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

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.

Symptoms:

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 breathing may lead to the following symptoms:

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.

Signs and tests:

The adenoids cannot be seen by looking in the mouth directly. Your doctor can see them by using a special mirror in your mouth or a flexible tube (called an endoscope) placed through the nose.

Tests may include:

  • X-ray of the throat or neck
  • Sleep study
Calling your health care provider:

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

References:

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.


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 physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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