What is Adenoiditis?

Adenoiditis is an inflammatory condition that affects the adenoids. Adenoids are a part of the lymphatic system and are similar in nature to the tonsils. They are located in the throat (behind the nose and roof of the mouth). A person’s adenoids are one of the primary lines of defense that a person has against any bacteria or viruses that invade the body.

When a person suffers from adenoiditis, the adenoids become inflamed and even infected. This can cause trouble with the immune system and function because the adenoids are home to antibodies and white blood cells that fight infections. Inflammation and infection in the adenoids themselves means that they may not be able to properly fight off any invading bacteria or viruses that come into the body.

The adenoids are most important during childhood as they play a key role in protecting the body from viruses and bacteria. However, the adenoids are less important later in life and into adulthood. As such, adenoiditis is much more common in children than in adults. Having chronic or recurrent throat infections or tonsillitis can increase a person’s chances of suffering from adenoiditis as well.

What are the Symptoms of Adenoiditis ?

Generally, the first symptom of adenoiditis is swelling in the adenoids. This swelling can cause the airways to feel blocked or narrowed causing symptoms like nasal congestion.

A person may also have a sore throat and may need to breathe through the mouth rather than the nose causing throat dryness. Trouble sleeping and snoring can also be signs of the condition as can ear pain and discomfort. Sometimes, a person may also have a runny nose or other common symptoms of infection.

Symptoms include

  • Sleep apnea
  • Bad breath
  • Earache
  • Trouble sleeping (due to difficulty breathing)
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal speaking sound
  • Stuffy nose

Adenoiditis Causes

The adenoids’ job is to prevent bacteria from being breathed in and causing trouble in the body. Those very bacteria and viruses are often the cause for adenoiditis such as Streptococcus bacterium and Epstein-Barr virus. Strep is generally thought to be the root cause of the problem.

However, other reasons exist for the inflammation of the adenoids. Allergies, for example, can cause inflammation when something becomes irritated. Head, neck and throat infections also cause the adenoids to swell and discharge, and infected tonsils cause irritation to the adenoids. All these are important to keep an eye on. If they are the means by which the adenoids swell and curtail breathing, then the bacteria and viruses are getting into the body and causing their particular brand of mayhem. The mucus seemingly constantly coming from the nose will be thick and greenish. If it isn’t treated, it can cause sinus problems and ear infections, and the condition can last for weeks or months.

How is Adenoiditis Treated?

The treatment for adenoiditis depends on the underlying cause.


If a bacterial infection has caused this condition, doctors can prescribe antibiotics to treat the condition.

Viral Infections

Viral infections, on the other hand, will not respond to such medications and will need to be monitored and managed until the infection clears.

Adenoidectomy (surgery)

If a person suffers from chronic sinus, ear, or other infections, and/or has suffered from adenoiditis repeatedly, an adenoidectomy (the surgical removal of an adenoid) may be necessary to clear up the infection and prevent future infections.

Adenoiditis Prevention

There is actually no way to outright prevent the condition.

A few things will keep adenoiditis from making peoples lives more difficult though:

  • Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. The juices from these foods are packed with vitamins and minerals which will help the immune system fight off infection.
  • Drink lots of fluids, including fruit juices and water.
  • Getting plenty of sleep to allow the body to heal itself and fight off germs and viruses.
  • Stay away from smokers – second-hand smoke will irritate the throat.
  • Avoid processed foods. They contain no useful nutrients and are instead full of junk the body can’t process. This isn’t good for the immune system.
  • Get immediate treatment for ear, nose and throat infections so they don’t adversely affect the adenoids.
Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
November 02, 2017
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