Most people have heard of a tonsillectomy. This procedure involves having the tonsils removed, most commonly for children who get recurring sore throats or other signs of tonsillitis. The procedure is so common that many children will know it as the surgery where you get to eat ice cream for a whole week afterward! A related, yet lesser-known procedure is an adenoidectomy.
Quite often, removal of the adenoids are added to the removal of the tonsils – adenotonsillectomy because both the tonsils and the adenoids infected can cause the child more illnesses, rather than doing any good. In some cases though, the adenoids need to come out even if the tonsils do not. This occurs primarily when a child experiences adenoiditis.
What are Adenoids?
Firstly, let us get a clear idea of what adenoids are and how they function. Positioned between the throat and the back of the nasal cavity, your child has a mass of lymphatic tissue: the adenoids. Adenoids protect infants and children from illness by catching germs breathed in through the nose.
If they never become infected, they will usually shrink away to the point of disappearing by the time your child is about 5 years old, as your child’s immune system develops and can fight off sickness on its own without help. However, when the adenoids become infected, they can become enlarged, causing some potentially serious problems.
Swollen adenoids can cause a sore throat, snoring, and even ear infections. If your child suffers from chronic ear infections, your pediatrician may recommend ear grommets, but they may also recommend an adenoidectomy.
How to Prepare Your Child for the Procedure
The first step in preparing your child for an adenoidectomy is to explain why they need the procedure. If your child is not resting well due to snoring and sleep apnoea, has sore throats, and/or chronic ear infections, talk to them about this.
Tell them that they are going to have a very simple, safe surgery done that will keep them from getting sick and will let them sleep better at night so that they have more energy to play during the day. Focus on the positive aspects, but do not completely ignore the details of recovery.
Your child does not need to be told, “You’re going to wake up from surgery, and your throat is going to hurt A LOT!” Be gentle with them, but do inform them that they are going to be resting and eating soft foods, like jelly and ice cream, for a few days after the procedure.
Mentally preparing your child for an adenoidectomy is most of the preparation work you will need to do, but you will need to make sure that you do a little bit of physical preparation too.
Firstly, always listen to your doctor’s recommendations and instructions, and always ask questions if you have any concerns that you feel have not been addressed. In the two weeks before surgery, you will have to keep some things in mind. Your doctor should give you a list to help you out, but here are some of the essentials.
Make sure that your child does not take any NSAIDs (like aspirin or ibuprofen) within 10 days of surgery. If your child is at school or daycare, make sure that their teachers and care providers know this too. These over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs act as blood thinners and can create problems during surgery and recovery.
Finally, make sure that you follow all of your doctor’s pre-surgery instructions to achieve the best recovery results for your child following adenoidectomy.
If you have any questions about adenoidectomy or snoring in children, contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see an ear nose and throat specialist.