Enlarged Adenoids

Enlarged adenoids refers to swollen lymphatic tissue that is found in the airway between your nose and the back of your throat. The tissue is similar to the tonsils. Enlargement of the adenoids may occur naturally (beginning when the baby grows in the womb), or it may be caused by long-term inflammation. The adenoids normally shrink as children reach adolescence.

Antibiotics may be used to treat tonsil and adenoid infections when they occur. Surgery to remove the adenoids (adenoidectomy) may relieve symptoms or prevent complications in those with frequent ear or sinus infections or fluid behind the ears. It may also be done when ear tubes have not successfully reduced infections.

Common Symptoms of Enlarged Adenoids

  • Bad breath

  • Cracked lips

  • Dry mouth

  • Mouth breathing (mostly at night)

  • Mouth open during the day (more severe obstruction)

  • Persistent runny nose or nasal congestion

  • Restlessless while sleeping, or snoring

Treatment Options Enlarged Adenoids


An adenoidectomy may be recommended for patients with enlarged adenoids.

Like the tonsils, the adenoids are masses of lymph tissue in the back of the throat that help the body fight invading bacteria and viruses. Also like the tonsils, the adenoids are prone to infection and enlargement. This can lead to sore throat, ear infections, stuffy nose, and breathing and swallowing problems. If antibiotics or steroids fail to resolve the problem, the adenoids may be removed in a procedure called adenoidectomy.


A tympanoplasty may be recommended for chronic ear infections and/or symptoms of hearing loss.

Myringotomy with the insertion of ear tubes is an optional treatment for inflammation of the middle ear. During a myringotomy, an incision is made into the ear drum, or tympanic membrane. The fluid in the ear canal is suctioned out, and a small tube is put in place to allow future drainage in the event of an infection.