What are Adenoids?

Adenoids are tonsil-like lymphoid tissue located high up behind the nose and roof of the mouth and palate. The Eustachian tube opens into the postnasal space near the adenoids. If adenoids are enlarged or chronically infected they can block this opening or be a source of infection travelling up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear. The result is recurrent ear infections, glue ear or chronic middle ear problems. If enlarged or chronically infected, they can also block the back of the nose leading to nasal obstruction, mouth breathing, chronic nasal discharge, snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea.

Removal is indicated to relieve nasal obstruction, snoring, sinusitis , glue ear and ear infections.

Adenoids usually shrink in size as children grow older – adenoid removal is less commonly done in patients over the age of 6 years.


  • Adenoid removal is always under General Anaesthetic
  • Removal is done with a curette accessed through the mouth or by a technique called suction diathermy. This reduces the risk of bleeding.
  • Usually a day case procedure.

Post Surgery

  • Quiet activity for a few days, about 1-3 days off school.
  • Mild pain – relieved with Paracetamol
  • Blow nose post operatively to clear mucus.

Possible Complications

  • Bleeding – usually mild and controlled with Otrivine nose drops.
  • Contact GP or emergency department if over 10 minutes or heavy.
  • Occasionally there can be re-growth after removal (usually when removed at a young age <3 years).
  • Altered speech – mild, usually settles. Very rarely, a congenital weakness of the soft palate may become apparent after adenoidectomy causing ‘cleft palate’ like speech and nasal regurgitation of swallowed fluids.
  • Damage to teeth may occur (rarely). Please inform surgeon of wobbly teeth or caps on the front teeth.
  • If Suction Diathermy is used, there may be a strong smell coming from your child’s nose. This may last 5 days but is quite normal.

Adenoidectomy in children, either alone or in combination with a tonsillectomy or grommet insertion, may be extremely beneficial in treating nasal obstructive symptoms and middle ear problems.

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