Ear Nose and Throat Operating Theatres

This page is for Adenoidectomy in ADULTS

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What are the adenoids?

Adenoids are lumps of tissue at the back of the nose.

What is the function of the adenoids?

In children, adenoids are part of the body's "Early warning system". They detect bugs in the nose in early childhood. After around age 5, the adenoids normally shrink down and become mostly inactive in adulthood.

What problems can occur in the adenoids?

There are a few problems that may affect your adenoids:

  1. The adenoids become too big or don’t shrink down after age 5
  2. The adenoids become infected, long term
  3. Very rarely, the adenoids can develop lymphoma or other types of cancer

What happens when adenoids become too big or don’t shrink after age 5?

Big adenoids can block the nose. This can result in you breathing only through the mouth and snoring at night.

Big adenoids may also block the tube between the back of the nose and the ear (the Eustachian tube). If this tube becomes blocked, fluid may become trapped in the ear, causing hearing problems and recurrent ear infections.

Big adenoids are a common problem in children but are less common in adults. Blocked nose in adults is usually caused by other problems, but big adeboids can contribute to adult nasal blockage.

What happens if the adenoids become infected?

Short-term infections of the adenoids are common in childhood and will affect most children at some stage.

Long-term infection of the adenoids may result in a more permanent collection of bugs.

Adenoid infections (short-term and long-term) are less common in adults.

How are big or infected adenoids diagnosed?

See your GP if you think you have big or infected adenoids. Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine you. An Xray may be ordered to look at the size of the adenoids.

Your GP cannot see your adenoids directly as they are deep in the back of the nose.

Dr Singh uses a special super-fine flexible camera that is passed through your nose (after using a special numbing spray) to look directly at your adenoids. This avoids the need for any Xrays and radiation exposure.

How are big or infected adenoids treated?

See your GP if you think you have big or infected adenoids. Treatment options include:

  • Do nothing - If the symptoms are not severe, treatment may not be necessary
  • Steroid nasal sprays - These may eventually reduce any adenoid infection/ inflammation
  • Long term antibiotics - These may eventually clear any adenoid infection
  • Referral to Dr Singh for adenoid removal (Adenoidectomy)

When should adenoidectomy be performed?

Adenoidectomy is usually performed when the adenoids become big enough to affect your breathing.

Adenoidectomy may also be performed to prevent recurrent ear infections or long-term fluid in the ear (glue ear)

Adenoidectomy may also be performed to prevent recurrent sinusitis.

Sometimes, adenoidectomy is performed for a biopsy.

These are the general guidelines – you are an individual and the decision as to when to undergo adenoidectomy is based on your individual circumstances, your choice and Dr Singh's recommendation.

Wait! The adenoids are part of the "Early warning system". If we remove the adenoids, will I get more infections?


The adenoids are only one part of the "Early warning system" in children. There is a whole ring of tissue around the nose and throat (called Waldeyer’s ring) that performs exactly the same function as the adenoids. Removing the adenoids has no effect on the "Early warning system". Millions of adenoidectomy operations have been performed around the world and there is no increase in infections in patients who have their adenoids removed.

In addition, the adenoids are only really active in early childhood. By adulthood, the adenoids have mostly lost their function.

How are the adenoids removed?

The adenoids are removed while you are asleep under a general anaesthetic. The adenoids are removed through the mouth - there are no cuts made on the outside.

Where is the operation performed?

In the interests of your safety, Dr Singh performs adenoidectomies at Lakeview Private Hospital and Westmead Private Hospital. Lakeview Private Hospital is the first and only full-size hospital built and run entirely by specialist doctors, for the benefit of patients. Westmead Private Hospital is also one of Australia's leading private hospitals. It is part of the Westmead healthcare campus, the largest Hospital complex in the Southern Hemisphere. Westmead Private Hospital is also affiliated with the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine, Australia's oldest and largest Medical School.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Yes. Adenoidectomy is an "Elective" procedure, meaning it is your choice to have the operation performed. Alternatives to surgery include:

  • Do nothing. You may keep getting problems related to the adenoids.
  • Steroid nasal sprays - These may eventually reduce any adenoid infection/ inflammation
  • Long-term antibiotics. Sometimes, a long course of antibiotics for many weeks or months may reduce the risk of adenoid problems.

Are there any risks to surgery?

Yes. Everything we do in life has risks. Even something as simple as crossing the street has risks... but we still cross the street. Dr Singh will explain the risks of your operation and provide you with an information pamphlet that explains the risks in detail. If you have any questions about risks, ask Dr Singh during your consultation.

What should I do next?

See your GP if you think you have adenoid problems (blocked nose with mouth breathing, snoring, recurrent ear or sinus infections). Ask your GP for a referral to see Dr Singh and call us for an appointment.

Disclaimer: The material on this page represents general information only and is NOT medical advice. For specific medical advice about your individual circumstances you must consult a trained medical practitioner. Always see your GP first. If your GP is unable to resolve your health problem, ask your GP for a referral to Dr Singh. Dr Singh always works together with you and your GP to achieve your best health outcome.

Important: Do not try to diagnose your medical problem by yourself! Do not rely solely on information found on the internet. Always see your GP first.

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