Why adenoiditis is not the same as a sore throat

Children are generally more susceptible to adenoiditis than adults.

Adenoiditis is a condition where the adenoids become inflamed. Adenoids are a mass of lymphoid tissue which helps the body fight infections. They are located in the throat and right behind the nasal cavity.

Along with tonsils, adenoids, which are part of the lymphatic system, are the first line of defence against bacteria and viruses.

Adenoids store white blood cells and antibodies that help destroy possible infections that threaten your health. If the adenoids become inflamed, they may not function effectively.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of inflamed adenoids may vary depending on the cause of the infection, but you may experience some of the following:

  • Sore throat.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Swollen glands in the neck.
  • Ear pain and other ear problems.

When your nose is stuffy, you may experience trouble breathing. Other symptoms of this condition associated with nasal congestion include:

  • Breathing through the mouth.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Snoring or sleep apnea (a condition in which you stop breathing for a short period while sleeping).

Inflamed adenoids can be caused by a bacterial infection such as Streptococcus. It can also be caused by certain viruses, including Epstein-Barr, adenovirus, and rhinovirus.

  • Some factors that may increase the risk of adenoiditis are:
  • Recurring infections in the throat, neck, or head.
  • Infections of the tonsils.
  • Contact with airborne viruses, germs, and bacteria.

Children are generally more susceptible to adenoiditis than adults.

Inflamed adenoids can be caused by either a bacterial infection or certain viruses. (Rawpixel pic)


The information provided herein is not a substitute for any medical advice. Always consult with a doctor for more information.

Your otolaryngologist would probably perform a physical exam to determine the location of the infection. They would also enquire about your family history of illnesses to determine if your condition is hereditary.

Other tests that could help the doctor form a diagnosis include:

  • Throat examinations using swabs to obtain samples of bacteria and other organisms
  • Blood tests to determine the presence of organisms
  • X-rays of your head and neck to determine the size of your adenoids and the extent of infection


If the cause of the illness is bacterial, doctors may prescribe antibiotics. If it is a virus, they would recommend an appropriate treatment regimen.

An alternative treatment option is adenoidectomy. However, surgery can only be performed if:

  • The disease does not get better when treated with antibiotics.
  • You have recurring infections.
  • You have an underlying health problem, such as cancer or a lump in the throat and neck.
  • You experience difficulty in breathing and swallowing.

You may experience some complications due to adenoiditis, which can lead to chronic or severe inflammation in the adenoids that spread to other parts of the head and neck.

1. Ear infections

You may suffer from an ear infection if you experience adenoiditis. Adenoids are located next to the Eustachian tubes that allow water or fluid to drain from the ears.

As adenoiditis becomes more severe, it can prevent these tubes from opening, leading to infections, as well as difficulty hearing.

2. Glue ear

This condition can occur when mucus builds up and blocks the middle section of the ear and affects hearing.

3. Sinus problems (Sinusitis)

If this condition is not treated, the sinus cavity could be filled with fluid and become infected.

4. Chest infections

You may experience chest infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis if the adenoids become severely infected. The infection can spread to the lungs, bronchioles, and other organs in the respiratory system.


Some habits that can help you prevent this condition effectively include:

  • Eating healthy foods.
  • Drinking lots of water.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Taking good care of the body and maintaining proper hygiene.

If your child has symptoms of adenoiditis or problems with their throat, seek the advice of a paediatrician as soon as possible.

This article first appeared on Hello Doktor and was medically reviewed by the Hello Doktor Medical Panel. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.