Last Updated December 20th, 2021
The upper respiratory tract is highly prone to infection because of constant exposure to airborne pathogens that invariably enter along with inhaled air. Hence, this region is equipped with several defensive features. One such is the adenoid gland, located at the junction of the nasal passage and the throat, which is part of the lymphatic system that is responsible for immunity. This organ continues to grow until about the age of 6 after which it naturally shrinks all through adolescence, virtually disappearing by late teenage. Therefore, the adenoid is absent in most adults.
Since its function involves filtering out infectious bacteria and viruses, it is not unusual for the adenoid itself to become infected. This relatively common condition is known as ‘adenoiditis’ and can last for weeks or months. Following diagnosis, the treatment is usually straightforward. Adenoidectomy or surgical removal of the adenoid may be necessary.
What is Adenoiditis?
Inflammation of the adenoid tissue caused by infection is known as ‘adenoiditis’.
This condition arises most often in children and might have a bacterial or viral origin.
In the event of viral infection, the symptoms normally recede after about 48 hours.
Bacterial adenoiditis, however, may last up to a week. Adenoiditis may occur in association with acute tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils due to infection).
What Causes Adenoiditis?
Infection may arise independently in the adenoid or else it may arise due to existing infections in other areas such as the throat or tonsils. Adenoiditis more commonly has a viral origin although bacteria can also be responsible. Certain allergens could also be responsible. The list of common causes is as follows:
- Bacterial or viral infection of the adenoid. Bacteria that are usually responsible for this condition include Streptococcus pyogenes, S. pneumoniae, Moraxella catarrhalis, various strains of Staphylococcus such as S. aureus.
- Viruses that can cause adenoiditis include adenovirus, rhinovirus, paramyxovirus and Epstein-Barr virus.
- Existing infectious diseases such as common cold.
- Existing infections in other nearby organs such as the tonsils.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms?
Inflammation and enlargement of the affected tissue cause discomfort in breathing. Disturbance in the normal breathing pattern is usually responsible for many of the symptoms noticed with this condition. Adenoiditis may present with a few or several of the following symptoms, which initially appear like those of the common cold:
- Breathing through the mouth.
- Sore throat or sensation of dryness in the throat caused by breathing through the mouth.
- Runny nose with green or yellow mucus discharge.
- Bad breath
- Trouble going to sleep because of difficulty in breathing.
- Speaking with a nasal sound.
- Sometimes, vomiting may also occur.
What Are The Different Forms of Adenoiditis?
Depending on what kind of pathogen causes the infection, adenoiditis can be of two types, namely, viral adenoiditis and bacterial adenoiditis. Adenoiditis of viral origin is the more common form. The bacterial form tends to last longer. There are some differences in the symptoms such as the quality of mucus discharge observed.
Does Adenoiditis Cause Any Complications?
The infection causes the adenoid to become swollen and enlarged and this can lead to other problems such as obstruction of the airways and repeated infections. The disturbance of normal breathing patterns can result in obstructive sleep apnea. The repeated occurrence of adenoiditis might leave the glands abnormally enlarged. A patient may also demonstrate voice changes and facial changes. A middle ear infection may be caused to the proximity of the adenoid gland to the eustachian tubes of the ear. Infection can potentially travel to the lungs and cause bronchitis or pneumonia. Sinusitis can also result from chronic adenoiditis.
What Tests Help To Diagnose Adenoiditis?
At first, the symptoms might closely resemble those of common cold and might be misinterpreted for that reason. If adenoiditis is suspected, the patient may be referred to an otolaryngologist (ENT specialist). Apart from checking for physical signs of adenoid infection, swabs will be taken from the throat in order to correctly identify the pathogen responsible. Blood tests may also be conducted to identify the pathogen. X-rays, though not always required, can help assess the extent of enlargement of the affected organ. Endoscopy enables the doctor to clearly view the inflamed organ and thereby confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment & Prevention
The treatment of adenoiditis depends upon the cause. If it’s a bacterial infection that has caused inflammation and infection of the adenoid glands, antibiotic treatment will be prescribed. If it’s a viral infection, then a virus-specific treatment plan would be followed. Surgical removal of the adenoids is considered when medications alone are not sufficient to treat the condition. Other situations which make adenoidectomy a requirement are:
- Recurring adenoid infections.
- Difficulty in breathing and swallowing.
- If the adenoid co-exists with other conditions such as a tumor or cancerous growths.
Adenoiditis can be prevented by maintaining precaution against day-to-day infections. This includes:
- Consuming a nutritious diet.
- Drinking adequate amount of water.
- Practicing basic hygiene.
- Getting proper sleep.
The adenoids are tissues of the lymphatic system that are located behind your mouth. They are a part of the body’s immune system and therefore help fight diseases. Adenoiditis is an inflammation of the adenoid. It is caused generally by an infection with a bacteria or a virus. The adenoids are only found in children and with age progressively shrink and reduce to almost nothing once you are an adult. The adenoids may not perform their desired function if they are inflamed. Curcumin, which is present in turmeric, has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and can be used to treat adenoiditis effectively.
Dos and Don'ts
- Drink plenty of water. This will help remove toxins from your body.
- Include lots of nutritious and immunity boosting foods in the diet.
- Get swift treatment for the adenoiditis-related conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, sleep deficit, and ear infections.
- Indulge in the consumption of junk foods.
- Resort to self-medication for treating the symptoms of adenoiditis.
- Expose the child to second-hand smoking.
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