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Adenoid Surgery

Adenoids are small glands in the throat, at the back of the nose. They are there to fight germs in younger children, and it is thought that after the age of about three years, the adenoids are no longer needed. The body can still fight germs without adenoids.

What problems can be caused by the adenoids?

Just as with the tonsils, we only take out the adenoids if they are doing more harm than good to the child. Some children have adenoids that are so big that they have a perpetually blocked nose, which causes them to breathe through their mouths. This can mean that they snore at night and even, in some cases, stop breathing for a few seconds while they are asleep.

The adenoids can also cause ear problems by stopping the tube that joins the nose to the ear from working properly. For children over three years of age, removing the adenoids at the same time as inserting grommets in the ears seems to help stop glue ear coming back. Removing the adenoids may also make colds which block the nose less of a problem for your child.

What are your treatment options?

Adenoids get smaller as you grow older, so you may find that nose and ear problems get better with time. Surgery will make these problems get better more quickly, but it has a small risk. Mr Fayad will thoroughly explain the pros and cons of surgery compared to waiting to see if the problem resolves itself.

For some children, using a steroid nasal spray will help reduce congestion in the nose and adenoids, and may be helpful to try before deciding on surgery.

Parents may change their minds about the operation at any time, and signing a consent form does not mean your child has to have the operation.

If we are taking adenoids out because of ear problems, we may put in grommets at the same time. If your child has sore throats or stops breathing at night, we may also take their tonsils out at the same time. Mr Fayad will advise parents exactly what these operations involve to ensure parents understand the recommended treatment, and to help them make their decision.

If parents opt for surgery then the first step is to arrange for a week off school.  If a child has a sore throat or a cold in the week before their operation – it may be safer to postpone it for a few weeks.

What is the recovery like?

Mr Fayad and his team will determine whether the child can go home on the same day as the procedure, or whether it is best they stay in hospital overnight. The child can only go home when they are eating and drinking and feel well enough to be discharged.

Some children feel sick after the operation but this settles quickly. A child’s throat may be a little sore after the operation, but prepare normal food for them as eating food will help the child’s throat to heal. Chewing gum may also help with the pain.

Sore ears are also normal as the the throat and ears have the same nerves, and it does not mean your child has an ear infection.

Painkillers should relieve any discomfort in the first few days after surgery, but parents should not give their child aspirin as it might cause them bleed. Bleeding can be serious and if you see any bleeding from your child’s nose or throat, then you should immediately see a doctor.

A small number of children find that their voice sounds different after the surgery. It may sound like they are talking through their nose a little. This usually settles by itself within a few weeks. The child’s nose may seem blocked up after the surgery, but it will clear by itself in a week or so.

Most children need about a week off nursery or school. They should rest at home away from crowds and smoky places. They should also stay away from people with coughs and colds to avoid infection.

What are the possible side effects and complications?

Adenoid surgery is very safe, but every operation has small risks. The most serious problem is bleeding, which may need a second operation to stop it. However, bleeding after an adenoidectomy is very uncommon. It is very important to advise Mr Fayad well before the operation if anyone in the family has a problem with bleeding.

During the operation, there is a very small chance that a tooth may be chipped or knocked out,  especially if it is loose, capped or crowned. Please advise the hospital if your child has any teeth like this.

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