Adenoids are glands located above the tonsils at the back of the nose. If adenoids keep getting infected or become enlarged, they can cause breathing and sleep problems, as well as ear infections, sinusitis or glue ear.
If these problems are ongoing and serious, your doctor might recommend removing your child’s adenoids (also known as an adenoidectomy). This is done under a general anaesthetic, usually as a day procedure.
Read on for information on what to expect, and tips to prepare and recover better.
Prepare well for a smooth recovery
Preparing well can help make your child’s surgery less stressful for both of you. It can also help avoid complications in hospital and during recovery.
What to expect as your child recovers from having their adenoids out
When your child has only their adenoids removed, they may have a sore throat for a few days. They might also have a blocked nose and some blood-stained discharge coming from their nose—this usually last a few days but can stick around for weeks. Bad breath is also common—it should go away within a couple weeks.
Most children need at least a day or two to rest at home before they get back to their every-day activities. If your child is having their tonsils out at the same time, they’ll take longer to recover and may experience other symptoms.
Is your child having a tonsillectomy at the same time?
Often when a child gets their adenoids out, they have their tonsils out at the same time. This is because infections that happen repeatedly usually affect both the tonsils and the adenoids.
Read more: Caring for your child after a tonsillectomy
Managing pain and discomfort
- Managing pain: Follow your doctor’s instructions for pain relief and clarify anything you’re not sure about. Don’t give your child aspirin as it increases their risk of bleeding.
- Soothing a sore throat: For the first day or two you can soothe their throat with cool drinks, ice cream, ice blocks or other cold foods such as jelly, yogurt or smoothies.
- Blocked and runny nose: You can wipe your child’s nose gently, but it’s important that they don’t blow their nose. It can take up to a month for their nose to fully clear.
- Nose bleeds: If their nose bleeds have them lay on their side and put pressure on the side of their nose for about 10 minutes. If that doesn’t stop the bleeding, take your child to the hospital emergency department.
Make sure they get enough to eat and drink
Check that your child is drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. It's also important that they return to a normal healthy diet as soon as they can.
Reduce the risk of infection
Take steps to prevent an infection, especially during the first week after they get their adenoids out. Keep your child away from anyone with a cold or flu and try to stay away from crowded and confined spaces.
Warning signs to watch out for
- Bleeding: Take your child to hospital if you see blood from their nose, throat or mouth in the first two weeks after surgery, and it hasn’t stopped after you’ve had them lie on their side and applied pressure for 10 minutes.
- Refusing food and drinks: Contact the surgeon, hospital or your GP if your child can’t eat or drink.
- Fever: Contact the surgeon, hospital or your GP if your child has a temperature of 38° or over.
- Vomiting: Contact your doctor if your child vomits 3-4 times, or has more than a teaspoon of bright red blood in their vomit.
Read more on how to prepare your child for hospital and care for them afterwards here.