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FYI: Adenoids and Enlarged Tonsils



Every ten minutes or so, Viola jumps from one chair to another while running around her mother. Her mother tells her to be careful or she’ll get hurt. “Viola is a very playful child,” she says. However, this has not always been the case. Last year, Viola found it challenging to play with the other kids for an extended period of time without getting tired. Violet, Viola’s mother, relates the incidents that led to her visits to various hospitals. “It all started with the common flu,” she tells me. Violet recalls how she could go to the hospital, the doctor would prescribe medicine, and after two weeks, she would return with the same signs and symptoms. My daughter will always snore, have a blocked nose, and have trouble breathing at night. She also had difficulty eating, she adds. In a whole year, she never added weight. According to the doctors, she reportedly had tonsils, but despite avoiding colds or sugary foods, they kept coming back.

Over the course of months, things got worse, and she had no idea what else to do. As a last resort, she tried using herbal remedies, but nothing changed; in fact, it only made things worse, which only heightened her anxiety. I initially visited neighborhood health centers and general practitioners. After several trips to the same medical facility, a doctor suggested I consult a pediatrician.

When Violet visited AAR hospital, the pediatrician recommended that she consult an ENT specialist. I was referred to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital. When I visited Gertrude, I met Professor Hebert Obura, an expert in ear, nose, and throat (ENTs). “My daughter was diagnosed with adenoids and enlarged tonsils after being examined and having an x-ray done,” she says. If I want my daughter to live a quality life, the doctor advised me to have the adenoids removed in a minor operation. The mere mention of her having surgery made me tremble with fear. She is only three years old. Two weeks after the surgery she recovered fully and l could see the drastic changes in the way she slept, ate and our hospital trips ceased, narrates violet

What are enlarged adenoids?

The adenoids are glands located between the airway a child breathes into through the nose and the back of the throat. Adenoids are a patch of tissue that is high up in the throat, just behind the nose. Adenoids and tonsils are part of the lymphatic system and maintain the balance of body fluids. They are both located at the back of the throat, but some parents might mistake them for one another.


For infants and young children, adenoids play a crucial role in fighting infections. However, as a child gets older and the body creates new ways to combat germs, they become less significant. Adenoids typically start to shrink in children after the age of 5 and frequently almost completely vanish by the time they reach adolescence.



  • Children with enlarged adenoids often breathe through the mouth because the nose is blocked. Mouth breathing occurs mostly at night, but may also occur during the day. Mouth breathing may lead to the following symptoms: Bad breath, Cracked lips, Dry mouth, Persistent runny nose, or nasal congestion
  • Enlarged adenoids may also cause sleep problems. A child may: Be restless while sleeping, Snore a lot, and Have episodes of not breathing during sleep (sleep apnea) and sometimes bed wetting
  • Children with enlarged adenoids may also have more frequent ear infections. middle ear fluid and hearing loss
  • Talk as if the nostrils are pinched


Many children with enlarged adenoids have few or no symptoms and do not need treatment. Adenoids shrink as a child grows older. The specialist may prescribe antibiotics or nasal steroid sprays if an infection develops. Surgery to remove the adenoids (adenoidectomy) may be done if your child shows severe or persistent symptoms.

What is an adenoidectomy?

The surgical removal of the adenoids is known as an adenoidectomy. Along with the removal of tonsils, it is one of the most common surgical procedures performed on children. A doctor may advise an adenoidectomy if swollen adenoids bother your child and don’t improve with medication.

Although the adenoids are a component of the immune system, their removal has no impact on a child’s capacity to fend off infections. The immune system has many other ways to fight germs. Other conditions, such as enlarged tonsils, always mimic enlarged adenoids. The condition is treatable and manageable, so even though many parents choose to self-diagnose, it is always preferable to seek a specialist’s advice.

Veronica Kaveza
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Freelance writer and podcaster

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