The adenoids are pads of tissue found behind the nose in the throat. They cannot be seen by looking into the mouth. Adenoids can get big and block the eustachian tube (leading to the ears) or the nasal airway (in the nose). Adenoids can also become a storage place for bacteria.

Nasal (Nose) Obstruction

Enlarged adenoids can block the nasal airway and lead to mouth breathing and snoring. Removing the adenoids, called an adenoidectomy, allows the child to breathe normally through the nose again.

Chronic Ear Infections

Enlarged adenoids can block and allow bacteria to enter the eustachian tubes in the ear. This can lead to ear infections. Removing the adenoids along with inserting ear tubes may help treat chronic ear infections.

  • Do not give aspirin products (including Pepto Bismol) or products containing Ginko Biloba or St. John's Wort for two weeks prior to surgery.
  • Do not give ibuprofen products (Advil, Motrin) or anti-swelling medications (Aleve, Celebrex, Naprosyn) for one week prior to surgery.
  • You can give acetaminophen (Tylenol) as well as over-the-counter cold medications and antibiotics.
  • Please tell your doctor if there is a family history of bleeding tendencies or if the child tends to bruise easily.

An adenoidectomy is usually done as an out-patient.  Your child will get medicine to make them sleep before surgery begins.  The surgery takes 20-30 minutes and the child usually stays at the hospital one to two hours afterwards. 

  • Most children are back to normal within 24 hours of surgery. Some children take a few days to recover.
  • Snoring and mouth breathing will continue or can develop, along with nasal congestion and nasal drainage. This is due to swelling in the back of the nose where the adenoids were removed.
  • Bad breath is also normal and is caused by scabs that form after surgery.
  • All of these symptoms are usually gone within 10 to 14 days.


Some children may have mild pain such as sore throat, headache or ear pain.  This typically lasts for only a few days and can be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin).


A low grade fever is normal for a few days after surgery and you can give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin).  Please call the office nurse if the temperature is over 102 degrees F.

Nausea and Vomiting

Some children may have an upset stomach and vomiting from the general anesthetic. This should go away within a few hours. Please call the office nurse if the upset stomach and vomiting continue for more that 12-24 hours.


  • Begin with a clear liquid diet (liquids you can see through like broth, apple juice, water, Jell-O, popsicles, etc.)
  • Start back on a normal diet as your child feels like eating.


Your child can return to normal activity as soon as he/she feels up to it.  Your doctor will talk with you about any restrictions.


There should not be any bleeding from the mouth or nose after surgery. If you notice any bleeding, go to the Emergency Room so the ENT doctor on call can look at your child.

Most children to do need to be seen for follow-up.  Your doctor will tell you if you need to be seen after surgery. 

If you have any questions or problems, call the office nurse.

For emergencies after the office is closed, please call the operator at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 513-636-4200, and ask for the ENT resident on call.

Last Updated 07/2014