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Adenoid hypertrophy: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

What is adenoid hypertrophy?

The adenoids are a rectangular mass of lymphatic tissue in the posterior nasopharynx. They are largest in children age 2 to 6 year. Enlargement may be physiologic or secondary to viral or bacterial infection, allergy, irritants, and, possibly, gastroesophageal reflux.

How common is adenoid hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy or inflammation of the adenoids is common among children. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of adenoid hypertrophy?

The common symptoms of adenoid hypertrophy are:

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Talking as if the nostrils are pinched
  • Noisy breathing
  • Snoring
  • Stopped breathing for a few seconds during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Frequent “Sinus” Symptoms
  • Ongoing middle ear infections or middle ear fluid in a school-aged child

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes adenoid hypertrophy?

Because adenoids trap germs that enter the body, adenoid tissue sometimes temporarily swells (becomes enlarged) as it tries to fight off an infection. The swelling sometimes gets better, but sometimes adenoids can get infected.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for adenoid hypertrophy?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is adenoid hypertrophy diagnosed?

Flexible nasopharyngoscopy

Adenoid hypertrophy is suspected in children and adolescents with characteristic symptoms, persistent middle ear effusions, or recurrent acute otitis media or rhinosinusitis. Similar symptoms and signs in a male adolescent may result from an angiofibroma.

Children with velopharyngeal insufficiency, eg, due to velocardiofacial syndrome, may produce a hypernasal speech that must be differentiated from the hyponasal speech of adenoid hypertrophy.

The standard for office assessment of the nasopharynx is flexible nasopharyngoscopy. Sleep tape recording, often used to document snoring, is not as accurate or specific. A sleep study may help define the severity of any sleep disturbance due to chronic obstruction.

X-ray imaging is contraindicated in children except when there is a high index of suspicion for angiofibroma or cancer.

How is adenoid hypertrophy treated?

  • Treatment of cause
  • Sometimes adenoidectomy

Underlying allergy is treated with intranasal corticosteroids, and underlying bacterial infection is treated with antibiotics.

In children with persistent middle ear effusions or frequent otitis media, adenoidectomy often limits recurrence. Children > 4 year who require tympanostomy tubes often undergo adenoidectomy when tubes are placed. Surgery is also recommended for younger children with recurrent epistaxis or significant nasal obstruction (eg, sleep disturbance, voice change). Although it requires general anesthesia, adenoidectomy usually can be done on an outpatient basis with recovery in 48 to 72 h. Adenoidectomy is contraindicated in velopharyngeal insufficiency because it can precipitate or worsen hypernasal speech.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage adenoid hypertrophy?

Adenoid enlargement is caused due to infection and allergies. You can prevent development of such condition in your child by giving them a healthy lifestyle that helps fight infections and allergies.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

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