What is adenoid hyperplasia?

Adenoid hyperplasia, also known as adenoid hypertrophy, refers to the enlargement or swelling of the lymph glands at the top and back of the mouth, called adenoids. Overgrowth of adenoids can occur for a few different reasons. Treatment depends primarily on the severity of the condition and partially on its cause.

The tonsils and adenoids work together, playing a role in the development and maintenance of the immune system. Adenoids are small when a baby is born, grow larger during infancy, reach their full size in late childhood or early adolescence, and then begin to shrink again. Large adenoids are common and normal in childhood, and many cases of adenoid hypertrophy will disappear with age.

Adenoid hypertrophy may be just part of the normal growth pattern, or the glands may stop growing after reaching full size. Sometimes adenoid hyperplasia occurs when a child has recurrent infections, such as sinus infections, ear infections, or strep throat. The glands swell to better fight infection and may not shrink completely again. If a child has many infections, the cumulative effect of this growth pattern can result in adenoids large enough to cause problems.

Symptoms of adenoid hyperplasia include difficulty breathing through the nose, snoring, or recurring or prolonged nasal congestion. In the case of acute infections, adenoid hyperplasia is often combined with tonsillitis, since swollen and swollen tonsils are easier to see than adenoids. Children who have had very enlarged adenoids for a long time may develop changes in voice and facial features caused by constant mouth breathing.

Surgery is sometimes required for adenoid hyperplasia, and was once the treatment of choice for this condition. Tonsils and adenoids are now known to play an important role in childhood immunity, and medical professionals try to avoid their removal unless symptoms are severe, chronic, or other treatments have failed. The surgery, called an adenoidectomy, is often combined with a tonsillectomy, or removal of the tonsils. A mirror and/or surgical imaging instruments are used to view the adenoids, and they are then removed through the mouth.

If the adenoid hyperplasia is not severe enough to warrant surgery, there are other options. Herbal treatments can help the immune system function and soothe swollen glands. Antibiotic treatment is used to fight the underlying infection before the adenoids become too large. Food allergies can cause recurring infections or immune system reactions, so eliminating the food in question often fixes the underlying problem.

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