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Adenoid Removal
September 2001

Q. My 22-month-old son has severe trouble sleeping at night, it's like he can't breath. X-rays showed he had enlarged adenoids, the doctor wants to operate and remove them. Are there any troubles we should expect to see as he grows up due to the adenoid removal, i.e., hay fever, or colds...?

A. The tonsils and adenoids are lymphoid tissue, part of the immune system located in the back of the mouth and throat. While the tonsils can be seen by shining a light in the mouth, the adenoids are not visible as they are in the air passage between the nose and throat. Children have small airways to begin with, so if the tonsils or adenoids are enlarged, breathing at night can be impaired as you describe.

The removal of tonsils and adenoids has been done for over 50 years, and indeed many studies have been conducted as to any long term consequences. No such consequences have been seen when these young patients are followed into adulthood.

HELPFUL WEBSITES:

http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/1998/498_sleep.html

http://www.pedisurg.com/PtEducENT/adenoids.htm

http://www.kids-ent.com/tonsil.html

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