Adenoid hypertrophy

Adenoid hypertrophy is an enlargement of the adenoids (lymphatic tissue in the back of the nose). The adenoids, along with the tonsils, comprise the Waldeyer ring.

Alternative Names

Enlarged adenoids

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Hypertrophy (enlargement) of the adenoids may occur naturally (beginning during fetal development), or it may be caused by chronic inflammation. This enlargement can cause breathing difficulties ranging from mouth breathing, snoring , bad breath , and chronic runny nose , to health threatening conditions such as intermittent sleep apnea , pulmonary hypertension , and right-sided heart failure ( cor pulmonale ).

Signs and tests

Physical examination of the throat confirms that the tonsillar tissue is enlarged. The adenoids cannot be visualized by looking in the mouth directly, but it can be seen with a special mirror looking into the nasopharynx or using a flexible endoscope through the nose.

  • X-ray
  • , side view of the throat demonstrates hypertrophy of the adenoids.
  • Sleep apnea
  • studies (severe cases only)
  • Treatment

    Adenoidectomy (surgical removal of the adenoids) will prevent complications, and will cure complications if they already exist from adenoid hypertrophy. Antibiotics may be used to treat tonsil, adenoid, and sinus infections when they occur.

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Full recovery is expected. Right-sided heart failure ( cor pulmonale ) is reversible on correction of the sleep apnea and airway obstruction .


  • Right-sided heart failure
  • (
  • cor pulmonale )
  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic otitis media
  • Calling your health care provider

  • Call your health care provider if your child has symptoms of
  • airway obstruction that interferes with normal nasal breathing, or if the child has other symptoms discussed above.


    Early treatment of throat infections may reduce hypertrophy associated with chronic infection and inflammation. Adenoidectomy prevents the complications associated with chronic airway obstruction related to hypertrophy.

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