what-are-adenoids-raleigh-ncIf you've had your tonsil removed when you were a child, you most likely had your adenoids removed at the same time. While everyone knows where their tonsils are located, many aren’t aware of where their adenoids are and don’t understand the role they play in preventing infection.

We'll examine some of the most frequently asked questions about adenoids and explain why they can cause so many problems in young children.


What are adenoids and what do they do?

Adenoids are a part of your lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is an intricate network of tissues and organs responsible for producing white blood cells that are vital to help your body fight infections and diseases. This system includes your spleen, tonsils, bone marrow and lymph nodes, according to the National Library of Medicine.

The adenoids work in conjunction with your tonsils to fight infection and trap any germs entering the body through the nose or mouth.


Where are the adenoids?

The adenoids are located behind your nose on a patch of tissue in the nasopharynx. It’s impossible to see them without the aid of a special medical instrument.


Why do enlarged adenoids cause problems?

Adenoids help young children fight infection until the body develops other ways to combat illnesses. When adenoids trap germs, they become swollen and may remain so even after the infection has gone.  Enlarged adenoids are a common problem in children, making it difficult for them to breathe through their noses.

Enlarged adenoids also affect:

  • The mouth, nose and lips

Because your child can’t breathe through the nose, he or she will breathe through the mouth, causing cracked lips, a runny nose and bad breath.

  • Sleep

Nasal stuffiness causes loud breathing, snoring and even sleep apnea, making it difficult or impossible for your child to get the restful sleep he or she needs.

  • Ears

Children with enlarged adenoids have frequent ear infections, causing fluid to build up in the middle ear.

How are enlarged adenoids treated? Do they always have to be removed?

Adenoids aren’t always removed. If symptoms are mild, nasal sprays will reduce swelling and antibiotics will treat a bacterial infection. However, if your child’s adenoids are frequently infected or cause ear problems, an adenoidectomy –the removal of the adenoids-- may be needed. If your child needs to have a tonsillectomy or ear tubes placed, the adenoids may be removed at the same time.

Typically, this is an outpatient surgery and your child goes home the same day.


We specialize in treating children

We are the only office in Wake County offering all aspects of pediatric ear, nose and throat evaluation and treatment.

Children have different ENT issues than adults and therefore, require quality, specialized care. Whether your child has frequent ear infections, hearing problems or speaking difficulties, we have the experience and expertise to provide your child with the care he or she deserves.

Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose, and Throat is the area's premiere physician-owned ENT practice with six convenient locations throughout Wake County. Our board-certified physicians have extensive experience in treating both common and complex cases to help adults and children alike. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us.



U.S National Library of Medicine. “Adenoids.” National Institute of Health."  Online.

U.S National Library of Medicine. “Lymphatic System” National Institute of Health.”  Online.