Adenoids are masses of lymphatic tissue that help the body fight infection. Adenoids are found in the throat, also called the pharynx, just behind the nose. They are the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. They store white blood cells and antibodies that help to destroy possible infections threatening your health. If the adenoids become inflamed, they may not perform their function properly.
Like tonsils, adenoids help keep the body healthy by trapping harmful bacteria and viruses that you breathe in or swallow. Adenoids do important work as infection fighters for babies and young children. But they become less important once a child gets older and the body develops other ways to fight germs. In kids, adenoids usually begin to shrink after about 5 years of age and often practically disappear by the teen years.
Enlarged Adenoids or Adenoiditis can be caused by a bacterial infection, such as infection with the bacteria Streptococcus. It can also be caused by a number of viruses, including Epstein-Barr virus, adenovirus, and rhinovirus.
Symptoms of Enlarged Adenoids
These symptoms are often associated with enlarged adenoids:
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Breathing through the mouth
- Talking as if the nostrils are pinched
- Noisy breathing
- Stopped breathing for a few seconds during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea)
- Frequent “sinus” symptoms
- Ongoing middle ear infections or middle ear fluid in a school-aged child
Chronic infections of the adenoids can affect other areas such as the eustachian tube – the passage between the back of the nose and the inside of the ear. This can lead to frequent ear infections and buildup of fluid in the middle ear that may cause temporary hearing loss.
The line of treatment will depend on how severe the condition is.
Surgery is used to remove adenoids that:
- don’t get better with antibiotics
- have recurring infections
- exist alongside an underlying health issue, such as cancer or a tumor of the throat and neck
- cause breathing and swallowing problems
Removal of adenoids (adenoidectomy) may be recommended if there is recurrent infection despite antibiotic therapy, and/or difficulty breathing due to enlarged adenoids. Such obstruction to breathing causes snoring and disturbed sleep that leads to daytime sleepiness, and may even cause behavioral or school performance problems in some children.
It’s important for the adenoids to be removed, especially if your child is experiencing repeated infections that lead to sinus and ear infections. Adenoids that are very badly swollen can also lead to infections or middle ear fluid, which can temporarily cause hearing loss.
Five Natural Remedies for Adenoiditis
Before opting for medication or even surgery one should always opt for natural remedies that can help reduce the size of the adenoids. Treatments such as cod liver oil, garlic, honey-lemon, turmeric and Basil serve as additional support to traditional treatments and can even be used as a “first line of defense” to forgo more aggressive treatment options.
Garlic contains a number of important compounds, including allicin. These compounds work together to make garlic an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compound. As such, garlic helps reduce inflammation and infection in the adenoids. Try giving your child 1-2 smashed cloves of garlic mixed with lemon juice and honey. If this unpalatable to the child, crush the peeled garlic clove and lightly sauté it in the minimum quantity of ghee.
Turmeric contains curcumin which has anti-oxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action. For best results, turmeric powder must be added into a glass of warm milk and drunk just before the child sleeps at night.
Basil has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory actions. This helps to reduce the swelling of the adenoids. Basil is also known to hasten the healing process and this makes it a good natural remedy for throat infections. Take about 10 basil leaves in 1 ½ cups of water, boil for 10 minutes, strain and mix in the juice squeezed from one small lemon along with a teaspoon of honey. Make your child drink this mixture about thrice a day for three days to notice a significant reduction in the throat pain.
4. Honey and lemon
Honey has antibacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties; thus it can help to reduce swelling of the adenoids. Take a teaspoon of honey and mix in 2 – 3 drops of lemon juice and make your child consume this about thrice every day for relief from throat pain.
5. Cod Liver Oil
Cold liver oil contains an important complex of nutrients including selenium. These nutrients support effective lymphatic flow and reduce infection. The essential fats in the oil also help reduce inflammation. Look for a cod liver oil supplement for kids over 12 or liquid for those under as they will absorb it better in liquid form.
There are a few things you can do to try to prevent adenoiditis. Eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of fluids is important. Also, getting enough sleep can help. Using good hygiene practices can minimize the chance of infection.