What is adenoidectomy?

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Adenoidectomy in children: Overview

Adenoidectomy is surgery to remove the adenoids. These are small areas of tissue at the back of the nasal cavity and throat. They are made of the same tissue that forms the tonsils.

The doctor will do the surgery through your child's mouth.

Adenoids, along with the tonsils, may help fight infection. But it isn't harmful to have them removed. The body has many ways of fighting sickness. Children may have this surgery because they often have ear infections that don't get better with antibiotics. Or they may have problems breathing or sleeping. This surgery may help.

How can you care for your child after an adenoidectomy?


  • Have your child rest when your child feels tired.
  • Your child can do normal activities when it feels okay to do so.
  • For about 7 days, keep your child away from crowds or people that you know have a cold or the flu. This can help prevent your child from getting an infection. You and your child should stay close to medical care for about 2 weeks in case there is delayed bleeding.
  • Your child may bathe as usual.


  • Your child can eat a normal diet. If your child's stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • If it is painful to swallow, start out with cold drinks, flavored ice pops, and ice cream. Next, try soft foods. Avoid hard or scratchy foods and other acidic foods that can sting the throat.
  • Encourage your child to drink fluids to prevent dehydration and to make the throat more comfortable.


  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, be sure your child takes them as directed. Your child should not stop taking them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.

How do you prepare for your child's adenoidectomy?

Surgery can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Talk to your child about the surgery. Tell your child that it will help your child have fewer ear infections or to sleep better. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
  • Ask if a special tour of the surgery area and hospital is available. This may make your child feel less nervous about what happens.
  • Plan for your child's recovery time. Your child may need more of your time right after the surgery, both for care and for comfort.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell the doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies your child takes. Some may increase the risk of problems during the surgery. Your doctor will tell you if your child should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it..

The day before surgery

  • A nurse may call you (or you may need to call the hospital). This is to confirm the time and date of your child's surgery and answer any questions.
  • Remember to follow your doctor's instructions about your child taking or stopping medicines before surgery. This includes over-the-counter medicines.

Adenoidectomy for children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child has severe bleeding.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • Your child bleeds from the mouth or nose.
  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child is unable to keep fluids down.
  • Your child is unable to drink liquids.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

After your child's adenoidectomy: Overview

Adenoidectomy is surgery to remove the adenoids. These are small areas of tissue at the back of the nose and throat. Your doctor did the surgery through your child's mouth.

Most children have throat pain for a few days after an adenoidectomy. After the surgery, your child may have bad breath, a stuffy nose, and voice changes for a few days. Your child may feel tired. Your child should be able to go back to school or day care in 2 or 3 days.

What happens on the day of your child's adenoidectomy surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the surgery may be canceled. If the doctor told you to have your child take any medicines on the day of surgery, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
  • Have your child take a bath or shower before you come in. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush their teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Do not let your child wear contact lenses. Bring your child's glasses or contact lens case.
  • Be sure your child has something that's a reminder of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. Your child will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take about an hour.
  • After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room. As your child wakes up, the recovery room staff will monitor your child's condition. The doctor will talk to you about the surgery.
  • You will probably be able to take your child home after the surgery.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.