Adenoids are small lumps of tissue at the back of the nose, above the roof of the mouth. They are part of the immune system and produce white blood cells to help fight infections andviruses that get trapped when breathed in or swallowed.

Babies and children have adenoids. The adenoids start to shrink from around age five yearsand almost disappear by the late teens. In rare circumstances adults may have enlargedadenoids.

Adenoids can become swollen for a while when fighting a bacterial or viral infection andblock the nasal passage. This swelling does get better, however sometimes the adenoids canbecome enlarged and cause:

  • A constant runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Difficulty sleeping• constant ear infections.

Conservative treatment with nasal sprays may help with these medical problems, but incertain cases, the adenoids may need to be removed.


Adenoidectomy is a short operation carried out under general anaesthetic to remove theadenoids. The surgeon will remove the adenoids by scraping them away or by applying heatusing a diathermy instrument. A diathermy instrument produces high-frequency electricalcurrents that burn the adenoids.


After an adenoidectomy, some patients may experience temporary minor health problems which rarely requires further treatment. They can include: sore throat, earache, stiff jaw, blocked nose, bad breath and change in voice (may sound like they are speaking through their nose).

Eligibility criteria:

Adenoidectomy is a restricted procedure. It will only be funded if other treatments have notworked and the patient meets the following criteria:

  • Difficulty sleeping, may start to snore or develop irregular breathing during sleep andexcessive sleepiness during the day
  • Recurrent or constant problems with ear infections
  • Recurrent or constant sinusitis including symptoms such as a frequent runny nose,facial pain and nasal-sounding speech.

This means the patient’s NHS commissioning organisation (CCG), who is responsible for buying healthcare services on behalf of patients, will only fund the treatment if the patientmeets the above eligibility criteria or if an Individual Funding Request (IFR) application hasshown exceptional clinical need and the CCG supports this.

Advice and guidance:

Treatment policy for patients covered by NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG

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