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What to Expect From an Adenoidectomy as an Adult Patient

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 6/30/2009

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are often thought of as childhood procedures. However, a high percentage of patients that have one of these procedures are adults. Find out what to expect.

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    This procedure involves removing the adenoids, which are behind the nose and the roof of the mouth. Everyone is born with these structures, which are supposed to help the body fight colds and other respiratory infections. However, the adenoids can often swell and cause difficulty with respiratory function, so they may be removed in order to relieve pain, inflammation, and other symptoms.

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    Reasons for the Procedure

    When someone has trouble breathing at night because the adenoids have become too large, they can be removed to help ease this difficulty. Strep bacteria can live in the adenoids and cause a person to have repeated infections. These infections can then be passed to others. The adenoids can be removed in order to reduce the number of infections a person experiences. This procedure may often be done along with a tonsillectomy, which is often done because of frequent infections of the tonsils, an abscess of the tonsils, or trouble swallowing due to enlarged tonsils.

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    Preparation

    There are very little preparation instructions to follow before an adult adenoidectomy, but it is important that you follow all instructions carefully. You should quit smoking several weeks before the procedure to minimize breathing difficulties and speed up your recovery from the surgery. You may also need to stop certain medications that can cause bleeding during surgery. You will be asked to fast after midnight on the night before your procedure.

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    Procedure

    During this procedure, you will be anesthetized so that you do not feel any pain. Your mouth will be held open with a device that exposes the adenoids. Bleeding may be stopped with the use of cauterization or stitches. Once the adenoids have been removed, the device that keeps the mouth open will be removed. You may be discharged the same day as your procedure or you may be kept overnight depending on your condition and what time your procedure was scheduled. Expect to have a sore throat and pain when swallowing for up to 10 days. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for a minimum of 2 weeks after the surgery.

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    Risks

    While this is a common procedure, there are some risks involved. Any time anesthesia is used, there are anesthesia-related risks. Difficulty swallowing may cause you to become dehydrated because you will not want to eat or drink much. Drink as much as possible to avoid this dehydration. Infection or bleeding can also occur after an adult adenoidectomy.

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    References

    University of Michigan Health System. "Tonsil and Adenoid Removal (Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy)." Accessed 30 June 2009.