Does he snore while sleeping….or does he have pauses in his breath while in sleep? If yes, then in all likelihood he is suffering from enlarged adenoids. Adenoids and tonsils are often talked about together. You can see your tonsils in the back of your throat, but what about your adenoids?
Adenoids are a patch of lymphoid tissue that sit higher up in the back of your nasal cavity. Like lymph nodes, they too are a part of the immune system. The adenoids trap the bacteria and germs that enter the body through the nose or mouth. White blood cells circulating through them and other lymphoid tissue react to the foreign invaders by making antibodies against them. This way they help your body fight against respiratory tract infections making them the perfect ‘Gate keepers’.
Although you can easily see your tonsils by standing in front of a mirror and opening your mouth wide, it’s not the same with adenoids. Your physician can see them only by using a special mirror in the mouth or by inserting a flexible tube (called an endoscope) placed through the nose. An X-ray film taken from the side of a person’s face (X-ray skull lateral view) can sometimes show enlarged adenoids. If unclear your doctor may advice an MRI or a CT scan to get detailed images of your sinuses, nasal cavities and adenoids.
Adenoids do important work as infection fighters for babies and toddlers. They assume less significance once a kid gets older and his body develops other ways to fight germs. We all have adenoids at birth and in childhood, but as we march into adolescence they start to shrink. By adulthood, most peoples’ adenoids have disappeared.
Because adenoids trap germs that enter the body, adenoid tissue sometimes temporarily swells as it tries to fight off an infection. The swelling generally gets better, but sometimes adenoids can get infected themselves leading to adenoiditis. When this happens, the tonsils may get swollen too. Swollen or infected adenoids can make it tough to breathe and cause problems like:
- a very stuffy nose, so a kid can breathe only through his or her mouth. Breathing through the mouth may further lead to bad breath, cracked lips, dry mouth and a persistently runny nose or a nasal congestion. This mouth breathing can cause permanent changes in the facial shape – “adenoidal facies” with elongation of the face and an open-mouthed, slack-jaw appearance.
- episodes of not breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea)
- swollen glands in the neck
- ear problems as enlarged adenoids may block the Eustachian tubes, which drain fluid from the ears into the throat. If these tubes are unable to drain, it can lead to repeated middle ear infection, pain in the ears and leaking in school going kids, causing the child to miss a lot of school days. It can affect the hearing too.
Conventional medicines offer antibiotics and nasal steroid sprays as the line of treatment every time one gets an infection. A possible removal (adenoidectomy) through curettage, cauterization, laser, or ablation is recommended if the adenoids get large enough or if the symptoms are severe or persistent. Adenoidectomy may also be recommended if your child has tonsillitis that keeps coming back. But as with all operations, possible complications of surgery include infection, severe bleeding from the sites where the tonsils or adenoids were removed, and anesthetic reactions.
Also, after adenoids are removed, the speech may become nasal. In a number of cases speech therapy or even a second operation might be needed to narrow the gap between the soft palate and the roof of the mouth.
Removing the adenoids or tonsils is just like removing the ‘guards’ that often get attacked by infections while safeguarding us. It certainly is not a wise decision. Homoeopathy believes that wherever possible, tonsils and adenoids should be saved as they are an important defence tissue of our body and provide the children with the much required immunity relating to the respiratory tract. Homoeopathic medicines can be a great boon for the kids with these enlarged adenoids and tonsils as not only do they cure the enlargements, they also enhance the body’s resistance to fight recurrent infections.
The treatment with homoeopathy is carried out in two stages. Acute inflammation is treated with a particular set of medicines and once the acute stage is over, the enlargement is treated with a different set. Homoeopathy offers a wide range of medicines like Hydrastis, Calcarea Phos, Agraphis nutans, Cistus Canadensis etc to name a few to treat the acute infection. If given judiciously they help restore the hearing loss due to catarrhal deafness too, by acting directly on the glands connected with the nasal cavity thus alleviating the obstructive symptoms. Deep-acting medicines like Tuberculinum, Medorrhinum, Thuja etc are often required to treat the constitution of the child and bring about lasting relief. After a detailed ‘case-taking’ your doctor will put you on a ‘Tailor made’ remedy (constitutional remedy) that may help you avoid adenoidal surgery!
A homoeopathic treatment is not only gentler for the kids but also has the added advantage of avoiding any infection or complications that may arise from surgery. So do give Homoeopathy a try before going under a surgeon’s knife!