An adenoidectomy, or adenoid removal, is surgery to remove the adenoid glands.
While adenoids help protect the body from viruses and bacteria, they sometimes become swollen and enlarged or chronically infected. This can be due to infections, allergies, or other reasons. Some children may also be born with abnormally large adenoids.
When a child’s adenoids become enlarged, they can cause problems by partially blocking his or her airway. When this happens, children can have breathing problems, ear infections, or other complications, which can lead to snoring or more serious conditions such as sleep apnea (stopping breathing) at night.
Chronic (long-term) nasal drainage, congestion and sinus infections can also be seen. Enlarged adenoids can also affect the recurrence (return) of ear infections and chronic fluid in the ear, which can result in temporary hearing loss.
Surgery to remove the glands is often needed. Removing them has not been shown to affect a child’s ability to fight infections.
An adenoidectomy is mostly done for children who are between the ages of 1 and 7. By the time a child is 7, the adenoids begin to shrink, and they are considered a vestigial organ in adults (a remnant with no purpose).