What Are Adenoids?
The adenoids are a mass of soft tissue behind the nasal cavity.
Like lymph nodes, adenoids are part of the immune system and are made of the same type of tissue (lymphoid tissue).
White blood cells circulate through the adenoids and other lymphoid tissue, reacting to foreign invaders in the body.
We all have adenoids at birth and in childhood, but as we head into adolescence they start to shrink. By adulthood, most people's adenoids have disappeared.
Symptoms of Infected Adenoids
Enlarged adenoids could cause obstructive sleep apnea and chronic ear infections. Some other symptoms include:
- sore throat
- stuffy nose
- swollen glands in the neck
- ear pain and other ear problems
- breathing through the mouth
- speaking with a nasal sound
- difficulty sleeping
- snoring or sleep apnea
My son was having recurring ear infections. Every month, he would finish up his antibiotics and a few weeks later, he would have another infection.
He mostly had ear infections, but he had many sinus infections too.
Finding Out That Your Child Needs to Have His or Her Adenoids Removed
After my son had been on antibiotics for 2-3 months for sinus and ear infections, he received a referral to an ENT (ear, nose & throat doctor) to see if there was anything that could be done.
It did not seem like antibiotics were helping, and the poor little guy looked like he was off in his own world most of the time due to the medicine and the lack of hearing since his ears were so stuffed up.
He was turning into a little zombie. He looked like he couldn't hear anything and he was off in his own world most of the time. He also looked pasty and was acting differently.
When we brought my son to the ENT, he listened to my son's history of issues and asked about his medications. When he heard that he had been on antibiotics for so long with no relief, he started to put things together.
The ENT looked into my son's nasal cavity, mouth, and ears. The ENT used a special instrument to look deep into my son's nasal cavity and saw that his adenoids were enlarged and blocking most of his Eustachian tube.
No wonder nothing was draining from his ears and he was hearing so poorly.
Our ENT told us that he would need adenoid surgery. Sometimes a child will need adenoid removal, tonsil removal, and ear tubes put in at the same time. Sometimes a child may only need one or two of these.
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Since my son mostly had ear infections, our doctor determined that removing the adenoids would be the least invasive and would produce the best results.
He also told us that with my son's symptoms, having the adenoids removed will decrease the number of infections my son gets by 80%!
The ENT then told us that he would need about a week of recovery time.
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Pre-Surgery for Adenoidectomy
To start the adenoidectomy process, we gave the ENT office the go-ahead to start scheduling the surgery.
We were able to get a surgery date about 1 1/2 weeks out. The ENT gave my son another antibiotic to take to prepare him for the surgery.
The surgery center had a few forms that I needed to fill out and submit before the surgery. I was able to fill them out and submit them online.
You will definitely want to do this before the surgery date comes because you don't want to have to spend extra time in the waiting room or, worse, get turned away.
Once I turned in the forms, I started receiving calls from the surgical center.
We were not given a time for the surgery until the day before the surgery date.
When I called to get a time, they told me he would have his surgery at 7:30 a.m. and that we would have to be there 1 hour and 15 minutes early.
I received several calls from the surgery center's finance department and nurses.
The finance department was able to tell me how much the bill would come to (ours was a little over $500 after insurance).
The nurses called to give me pre-surgery instructions and asked if I had any questions.
One of the main instructions that they gave me was to not feed my son after midnight before his surgery.
They wanted his belly to be empty since they were giving him anesthesia to put him out completely.
Water and apple juice were OK to give him up to three hours before the surgery.
Surgery Day: What Happens When Your Child Goes Into the Surgery Center
Surgery day is scary for the child and the parent. We arrived one hour and fifteen minutes early as scheduled.
Once there, I filled out and signed more forms and made a payment.
After that, they brought us to the next waiting room. We sat there and waited until they called my son's name.
Once they called his name, they brought us back to get his gown on and get his blood pressure and temperature and list of medications.
Afterward, they brought us to yet another waiting room where the parents and the children in their little gowns were waiting to go into surgery.
After they called my son's name, we were brought to the surgery room. My son laid down on the table and they put a breathing mask on him and started administering sleeping gas.
I was holding his hand while they were doing this and I could feel him falling asleep.
Once he fell asleep, they asked me to go to the waiting area. After I left, they placed an IV in his arm and removed his adenoids.
After sitting in the waiting room for about twenty minutes, the doctor came in and told me that my son had done well, the surgery was finished and that he was still waking up from the medicine that they had given him.
Our ENT is the doctor who performed my son's adenoid surgery. He said that my son's adenoids were blocking most of his Eustachian tube, and were swollen and very infected.
After the surgery, I was brought to a recovery room where there was a line-up of recliners with partitions between each one.
They had me sit in the chair and they wheeled my son to me and put him in my lap. He was still asleep and he slept for two hours after he got to me!
When he woke up, they took the IV out and gave him some fruit juice and a Popsicle. They also gave us his new prescriptions: acetaminophen with codeine, and more antibiotics.
The acetaminophen with codeine was for any pain he had afterward, and the antibiotics were to keep surgery-related infections from happening.
My son was pretty groggy for a few hours after the surgery, but by the afternoon, he was looking like his old self again.
He did have some pain in his head and throat, but the doctor and nurses said that that would happen.
What Happens the First Few Weeks After the Adenoids Are Removed?
After surgery, my son had to take it easy for a week.
He missed his Tae Kwon Do graduation and his 100th day of school celebration, which was sad, but he needed the rest more.
He needed the pain medicine for almost a week before he stopped taking it because he was feeling better.
The day after the surgery, we went for a walk. During the walk, he said his head was starting to hurt him really bad, so we made our way back home and before I could get the medicine in him, he was throwing up.
Once he was lying down and had taken the medicine, he started feeling better again.
Take it very slow those first few days after the surgery, because even a walk was a little too much for my kiddo.
There is some smelly breath that comes with these types of surgery. It does not last too long.
It's caused by scabbing in the nasal cavity. Once it is healed, the smelly breath goes away.
Overall, I am glad we found out the problem and fixed it. It is still too early to tell how much it will really help (with infections) since he just finished his antibiotics from the surgery this morning.
My son is not 'in a cloud' anymore. I see his personality shining through again and he can hear again. To me, that makes it worth it!
Three Months After Adenoid Surgery
It is now three months after my son had his adenoids removed. He has not needed antibiotics and has not needed as much medicine. I finally have my son back.
I am so glad he doesn't need to be on antibiotics constantly anymore. He can hear better and he is no longer like a zombie.
He has color back in his face and he pays attention much better now that the brain fog has lifted and he can hear again.
I am so happy that we did get the adenoid surgery. It has made a world of difference!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Melanie Casey
Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on January 22, 2016:
My son had his adenoids removed 3 years ago and it has helped immensely. He went from constantly needing antibiotics and steroids for ear infections to only having two ear infections in 3 years! Mike Pfirrman, what is the name of the throat wash that your son uses? I'll have to look for it.
Mike Pfirrman on January 11, 2016:
Don't let a doc do just adenoids and not tonsils. My son, now 22, had his adenoids out when he was around 8 or so. He has problems with ongoing tonsillitis till this day. Just ridiculous. He still gets as many ear infections, etc. The only thing that helps him is a product that we bought him that is a throat wash along with lozenges. Tonsillitis are skin flaps that trap bacteria. If you don't get rid of them, they will always trap bacteria. Period. Taking the adenoids out does nothing to change that.
Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on March 05, 2013:
I'm glad it made a difference! It's good to hear! My son just had his adenoids removed almost 3 weeks ago. So far, it looks like it is helping, but he has been getting bad headaches since the surgery. They seem to be lessening as time passes though. I am so glad that he can hear again! His ears were so congested before the surgery from all of the ear infections.
Tirralan Watkins from Los Angeles, CA on March 04, 2013:
caseymel, nice article and very thorough. Both my sons had Adenoid surgeries and ear tubes put in at 1 & 1/2 years old. They both had a terrible time getting a good night's sleep, but I was so grateful after the surgeries because it was such a noticeable difference. Thank you for sharing your story.