How Adenoid Removal May Help Your Child's Chronic Runny Nose
Feb 13, 2018
It’s not unusual to see a kid with a stuffy, runny nose or a child with an ear infection. Often, these are mild symptoms and can be caused by the common cold, allergy symptoms or mild sinus infections that may get better without additional care or medication. However, these symptoms can also be due to a blockage of the nose due to an enlarged adenoid, which could require additional care.
What is the Adenoid?
The adenoid is a structure that is located where your nose joins your throat. Its purpose is to help the body fight infection, but sometimes the stimulation of white blood cells in the adenoid can cause it to enlarge and block the nose.
The adenoid can also affect a structure called the Eustachian Tube (ET). The ET connects an area of the ear that houses small bones that conduct sound and helps control pressure in your ear. The ET is also the path that viruses and bacteria can enter and exit the ear and plays a role in ear infections. When the ET is blocked by the adenoid, a child can have fluid in their ear or be more prone to ear infections.
How do I know if my child has an enlarged adenoid?
Nasal symptoms are very common in children, but if those symptoms persist for several weeks, on a consistent basis, they may require additional investigation:
Long-term symptoms of nasal blockage with no other associated symptoms of cold or allergy – such as cough or sneezing
Snoring and mouth breathing at night
Fluid in the ears or otitis media that occurs frequently or persists over 3 months
How do I have my child evaluated for adenoid problems?
Discuss your child’s symptoms with your pediatrician. If your child’s physician is concerned, they should send you to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. Because the adenoid is not visible on a routine physical exam, an ENT may use a small camera called an endoscope to look inside your child’s nose during the office evaluation. In addition, some pediatricians may order an x-ray of the back of the nose to see the adenoid.
How is an enlarged adenoid treated?
Nasal steroids may be used for several weeks or a minor surgery to remove the adenoid may be recommended. Use of nasal steroids may be appropriate for mild symptoms and for children who can tolerate using a nasal spray. For more severe nasal symptoms, surgery may be necessary. The surgery is often less than 20 minutes and your child should go home the same day.
Does my child need their adenoid?
In general, removal of the adenoid does not have a lot of risk to the overall immune system. The adenoid typically will shrink as your child becomes a teenager, but this is not always the case. When a child has persistent symptoms caused by an enlarged adenoid, treatment typically produces a good result and improves the child’s quality of life.
Charles A. Elmaraghy, MD, is Chief of the Department of Otolaryngology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an active faculty member in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
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