Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

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What are adenoids?

The adenoids are small pads of soft tissue at the back of the nose above the throat. They cannot be seen when you look in your child’s mouth. It is similar tissue to the tonsils. The Eustachian tube, which allows air into the middle ear, on each side opens next to the adenoid tissue; so inflammation of the adenoids can affect the ears.

Adenoid tissue can be relatively large in pre-schoolers but over time becomes smaller. During teenage years it can disappear.

Why should they be removed?

There are a number of reasons why your child may need to have their adenoids removed, which include:

  • Difficulty in breathing and sleeping at night if the adenoids are enlarged
  • Constant mouth breathing due to large adenoids
  • Frequent ear infections and/or fluid in the ears ("glue" ear).

What happens during the operation?

Your child will come into hospital the day they are having their operation. It is important that they don’t have anything to eat or drink before the operation. You will be advised what time your child needs to be fasted/ ‘nil by mouth’.

Before surgery your child’s doctor will give you instruction about medications. Some medications may increase the chance of bleeding and this is why it is important to talk to your doctor about any medicines your child is taking or may take.

Before the operation commences your child will be given an anaesthetic to put them into a deep sleep. It will keep them from feeling pain during the operation.

There are different methods that the doctor may use to remove the adenoids.

What to expect in the ward after the operation?

Your child may be a little sleepy when they first come to the ward because of the anaesthetic they were given during the operation to keep them asleep.

They may also feel a bit sick.

When they wake up they will be given a drink. They can eat and drink what they can tolerate. It is very important that your child drinks before they are discharged.

The nurses will check your child often during their stay, checking temperature, pulse and breathing.

It is very important that your child takes their pain medicine while in hospital to help them with any pain they may have after the operation.

How long will my child stay in hospital?

You should expect to go home the same day of the surgery unless your doctor would like your child to stay overnight. The doctor will discuss this with you before your child’s surgery so that you and your child can come to hospital prepared to stay overnight. The doctors or nurses will come and see you in hospital to let you know when you will be discharged and what information you will need to care for your child at home.

What do I need to know when my child goes home?

  • Your child may have a sore throat for a few days and pain relief may be required. Your doctor will talk to you about which pain relief to take. Some medications may increase the chance of bleeding and this is why it is important to talk to your doctor about any medicines your child is taking or may take.
  • Your child can begin a light diet- offer healthy choices eg sandwiches, pasta, soup. Avoid ‘junk’ foods. A normal balanced healthy diet can be offered the next day.
  • Your child should rest at home for a day or two, then resume normal activity when they are ready unless otherwise directed by your doctor. After an adenoidectomy, your child should continue brushing their teeth morning & night.
  • Your child may also have slight nasal congestion for the first few days lasting some weeks. This should settle as the surgical area heals.
  • Your child's nose may be smelly for a couple of weeks after the surgery, again this should settle as the surgical area heals.

It is common for children to have some blood stained discharge:

  • Gently wipe your child's nose

If your child does get a blood nose:

  • Lay them on their side.
  • Apply firm pressure to the sides of the nose for 10 minutes.
  • If the bleeding does not stop, contact your nearest emergency department.

When should I call the Doctor or Hospital?

Contact your child's surgeon/hospital if your child:

  • Has any fresh bright red bleeding from their nose or mouth

-This bleeding can happen up to 2 weeks after the surgery.

  • Has more than one teaspoonful of fresh blood in the vomit
  • Vomits more than 3 or 4 times
  • Can't eat or drink
  • Has a temperature of 38°C or more.

The doctor may advise you to bring your child back to hospital.


  • Your child should continue to take their pain medicine when they go home
  • It is important that your child eats and drinks a satisfactory amount when they are at home
  • Call the hospital if your child has any bleeding. 
The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick
Hunter New England Kids Health

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