August 11, 2020

Adenoiditis: Symptoms, Epidemiology, Prognosis, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Adenoids are aggregates of lymphatic tissues that are responsible for fighting infections. These are found in the throat, along with the tonsils. These act as the first line of defense against invasion of foreign particles like bacteria and viruses. Adenoids form a part of the lymphatic system which is responsible for the maintenance of immunity in the body and protection against infections. These are the sites of white blood cells and antibodies which help in the destruction of infections that threaten the body.

These are found mainly in children; they start developing at the time of birth and mature fully when the child is three to five years old. Slowly, the adenoids start to disappear when the children grow and reach teenage. However, in some individuals it stills stays in a shrunken state increasing the risk of infection, known as adenoiditis, by some folds.

What is Adenoiditis?

Adenoiditis is an infection that occurs in the nasal-throat region, where adenoids are present. Adenoids usually work as magnets wherein the germs and any allergens get stuck as soon as they enter the body via the nasal passage. It fights the germs and prevents the body from getting infections or showing allergic reactions. However, at certain times, the microorganisms invade and affect this gland itself thus causing infection in it known as adenoiditis.

In this infection, the adenoids get inflamed due to allergy or infection due to virus or bacteria. This results in swelling of the adenoids which further restrict the passage of air and hamper the process of breathing. Since adenoids are found in children, hence this infection is also seen mainly in children.

Symptoms of Adenoiditis

The symptoms of adenoiditis include:

  • Blocked or stuffed nose
  • Pain in the throat
  • Pain in the ear
  • Swelling in the neck region
  • Breathing via mouth
  • Nasal sound while talking
  • Snoring during sleep
  • Greenish or discolored mucus appearing from runny nose.

Epidemiology and Prognosis of Adenoiditis

The occurrence of adenoiditis is common in childhood, with incidences becoming rare by the age of fifteen because the adenoids start to shrink when the child get older. This condition is also associated with acute infection of tonsils. The occurrence of adenoiditis has increased a lot since decades. The infection is observed to affect the male more than the females, owing to the indoor presence of females thus less exposure to the allergens. In maximum cases, adenoids are removed to get rid of the infection by the procedure called adenoidectomy. As a result of which accurate incidence rate cannot be determined. However, the prognosis rate is very good both with medication and also surgery.

Causes of Adenoiditis

The main causative agents for adenoiditis are microbial infections and allergies. The microbial infection can be due to bacteria like Streptococci and viruses like Adenovirus, Rhinovirus and Epstein virus. The allergens that cause the condition are usually pollution and smoke.

Pathophysiology of Adenoiditis

The bacterial microorganisms are responsible for the infection and inflaming of the adenoids. The most common bacteria that are known to cause the infection are Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza and Moraxella catarrhalis. These are known to harbor in the areas where adenoids and tonsils occur, thereby causing the recurring sinusitis along with obstinate ear problems. Furthermore, the infection leads to problem in breathing causing sleep apnea.

Risk Factors of Adenoiditis

The risk factors that can lead to infection of adenoids are:

  • Infection that reoccur in the nasal, throat and head regions.
  • Reoccurring infection in the tonsils.
  • Frequent contact with air borne microbes.
  • Repeatedly dealing with pollution and smoke allergens.

Complications of Adenoiditis

Patients generally suffer from multiple complications due to adenoiditis which include:

  • Severe swelling or inflammation around the head and neck region.
  • Recurring ear infections occur in the middle ear because the adenoids are present near to this region. The infected fluids flow through the Eustachian tubes leading to ear infection.
  • Impacted hearing due to buildup of mucus in the Eustachian tubes and further blocking of it.
  • Frequent occurrence of sinus problems due to the presence of infected fluid in the sinus.
  • Chest infections like pneumonia and bronchitis can occur when the infection becomes severe.

Diagnosis of Adenoiditis

The process of diagnosis is conducted by an Otolaryngologist or ENT doctor. The diagnostics procedures involve a preliminary physical examination followed by other tests.

  • Physical Examination to Diagnose Adenoiditis: The physical examination involves the identification of the location of the infection by the ENT specialist followed by analysis of family history.
  • Throat Examination to Identify Adenoiditis: Swabs are taken from the throat region for cultures to analyze the samples for the presence of microorganisms.
  • Blood Tests to Check Infections Causing Adenoiditis: Blood tests are conducted to determine the presence of microorganisms causing the infection.
  • X-Ray to Diagnose Adenoiditis: To assess the severity of the infection and the size of adenoids, x-ray examinations are conducted.

Treatment of Adenoiditis

The treatments used for adenoiditis are generally of two types:

  • Antibiotic medications to Treat Adenoiditis: This is the most common treatment used for treating the infection and controlling the swelling of the inflamed adenoid tissues. The medications prescribed are specific to the causative agent for infection which can either be a bacteria or a virus.
  • Adenoidectomy to Cure Adenoiditis: It is a surgical procedure in which the inflamed adenoid tissues are cut off; however, this alternative is taken up only in the cases where the patient does not respond well to the antibiotics, have a repeated occurrence of the infection, presence of another health condition like cancer or tumors in the throat and neck region or facing of problems during breathing and swallowing.

Prevention of Adenoiditis

A few steps can help in preventing adenoiditis. These include:

  • Eating healthy foods that boost the immunity levels of the body.
  • Consuming plenty of fluid to maintain water balance and flushing of toxic agents out of the body.
  • Taking ample amount of rest and sleep.
  • Practicing good hygiene and sanitation habits to lower the chances of infection.
  • Regular pediatric checkup of children to check the presence of adenoiditis and other infections.


Adenoiditis is a medical condition in which infection occurs in the adenoid glands placed in the throat region near the tonsils. This condition is more common in children as adenoids in adults mostly shrink and disappear. The infection can be caused due to allergy or infectious agents. This can be treated by taking antibiotic medications. In case, the medications do not respond well, the inflamed adenoids can be removed via surgical procedure. The infection if treated in time does not get severe and following the preventive measure helps in preventing the condition.

Note: This information is only for reference and is not a substitute of a medical care in any form. Kindly consult with a Healthcare Professional for detailed diagnosis, treatment and follow up.

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