Also known as an adenoidectomy, adenoid surgery is a common procedure performed by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist that results in the complete removal of adenoids. It’s often recommended alongside tonsil surgery, but may also be used on its own as a treatment for chronic infection, sleep apnea and other ENT-related issues.

What are adenoids?

These are glands that can be found on the roof of the mouth, right behind the soft palate which is where your nose and throat are connected. Their primary function is to produce white blood cells that fight off infections. Over time, they tend to shrink as we grow and may vanish altogether.

Why remove them?

Despite their beneficial function, chronic throat infections cause adenoids to become enlarged. This can lead to blocked airways, which can lead to sleep apnea, ear infections and other issues that can increase our risk of hearing loss and chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure.

Signs that adenoid surgery is necessary

Your ear, nose and throat specialist will only recommend adenoid surgery if it’s necessary. However, some of the symptoms that you need it due to enlarged adenoids include sore throats, trouble swallowing, difficulty breathing through the nose, sleep apnea and repeated ear infections in the middle ear as a result of blocked airways. In most cases, adenoid surgery is recommended if you experience ear or throat infections more than five times a year.

The procedure

All surgery begins with the examination before the procedure. During this process, the soft palate will be visually examined and tested to ensure that blood clots correctly and red and white blood cell count is normal. The surgery itself is most often carried out under local anesthetics, meaning you will be unconscious during the surgery and will feel no pain. What’s more, it’s an outpatient procedure, meaning you should be able to go home after the surgery. A breathing tube is inserted through the nose while the mouth is kept open using an instrument. The adenoids are cut away using a scalpel, laser or heated instrument in a process known as cauterization. Once the ENT is satisfied that the wounds are closed and there is no excessive breathing, the anesthetic will be reduced until you wake up. You will remain in the recovery room for a little time before you’re allowed to go home.

Aftercare

Some discomfort can be expected for one or two weeks, such as sore throats and irritation. Medication like prescription narcotics or NSAIDs like ibuprofen may be prescribed. You will also be advised to have cool, soft foods available for up to 48 hours and no dairy as it can create a film that irritates the throat. A humidifier in the bedroom may be recommended to stop cold, dry air from irritating the throat as well.

There are no major risks associated with adenoid surgery beyond those that come with every surgery. However, if you have concerns or questions or you need to inform your ENT about any medications or conditions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.