Symptoms and Treatment of Adenoiditis in Babies

Adenoiditis is a common pathology in neonates and children, it happens when there's inflammation in the tissue and usually disappears during adulthood. A bacterial infection is the most common cause of this condition.
Symptoms and Treatment of Adenoiditis in Babies
Samuel Antonio Sánchez Amador

Written and verified by the biologist Samuel Antonio Sánchez Amador.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Adenoiditis is an illness characterized by an inflammation in the size of the adenoids (mass of lymphoid tissue near the nostrils) with respect to the size of the nasopharynx of babies. It causes nasal obstruction among other complications. The main cause is an infectious episode, according to pediatric sources.

Adenoiditis has characteristic symptomatology and is relatively common in babies. Even so, it’s essential to know when to consult a doctor for possible treatment when suspecting this condition. Continue reading to find out more about it.

Who’s prone to adenoiditis?

Before getting into the subject, let’s talk about the population group that’s most likely to suffer from this condition. The various medical examinations provide the following data:

  • The prevalence of adenoiditis in babies is difficult to quantify, as it’s usually associated with other clinical pictures, such as rhinosinusitis
  • The highest morbidity (probability of acquiring the disease), according to scientific studies, is between the age of one and nine years old
  • The adenoid tissue begins to atrophy from the age of six and seven and continues to decrease in size during puberty; this is why it’s a characteristic disease in babies and children

As you can see, this is a pathology biased by the age of a person. Adenoiditis isn’t one of the primary causes when there’s a nasal obstruction in adults.

A girl coughing.
Respiratory infections are the main causes of adenoiditis during the pediatric age range.

Check out the Causes and Symptoms of Laryngitis

Characteristics of adenoiditis

As we said above, this pathology manifests as a swelling of the adenoid tissue, a patch just behind the nose that’s part of the lymphatic system. This structure reacts to infections by trapping germs and bacteria so they don’t go into the upper respiratory tract.

Adenoids are functional in infants and children, but according to sources cited above, they reach maximum growth at age seven. From then on, they begin to decrease to the point of being almost gone by the time a child reaches adulthood. This is because we develop new immune mechanisms as we age.

We must highlight the difference between acute and chronic adenoiditis — although this concept doesn’t seem to be standardized by all bibliographic sources. Adenoid tissue may become temporarily inflamed during an infectious episode, which is to be expected. However, if the adenoids become infected, the clinical picture may become chronic.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that infections are the most common cause of acute adenoiditis. Allergic processes or irritation from stomach acidosis may play a role though. The bacteria most associated with this clinical picture are:

  • Haemophilus influenza
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Staphylococcus aureus

Finally, note that repeated adenoiditis leads to adenoidal hypertrophy. In this case, surgical removal of the tissue may be required, as it won’t decrease in size after infection.

Symptoms of adenoiditis in babies

Pediatric portals, such as Kidshealth, list the symptoms of this disease in both infants and children. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Dry mouth and bad breath
  • Chapped lips
  • Nose discharge
  • Ear problems
  • Noisy breathing
  • Recurrent nasal or sinus infections

All these symptoms are due to a newborn’s inability to breathe properly. Swollen tissue makes the air flow into the upper airways, so the baby begins to breathe through their mouth.

Treatment of adenoiditis in babies

The key to treating adenoiditis in babies is to wait and see. There’s no point in giving antibiotics to a newborn with an allergic reaction. Note that diagnosing the patient yourself should be out of the question. You must consult a pediatrician and they may take various measures:

  • Viral infections don’t usually require treatment. In fact, this type of pathology of the upper respiratory tract usually resolves after 5 to 7 days, at least according to some scientific sources.
  • Some bacterial infections require antibiotics. For instance, Amoxicillin is one of the most used drugs and usually leads to improvement in about 48 to 72 hours.
  • Nasal steroid sprays or antihistamines are the way to go if you suspect an allergic reaction.
  • Changes in the infant’s diet and advice from a pediatric nutritionist should be enough to alleviate symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.

Again, if the patient doesn’t respond to treatment and continues to have respiratory problems that lower their quality of life then there may be a need for an adenoidectomy (removal of the adenoids). This surgical process poses no risk for most infants.

A doctor looking into a child's nose.
This pathology is common and surgery is an option up to the age of 7-9 years.

Read about Mononucleosis in Children: What You Need To Know

Adenoiditis in babies and the role of the pediatrician

This is a common disease that’s often associated with other pathological processes of the upper respiratory tract. Thus, consult a pediatrician if your baby has breathing difficulties, halitosis, dry mouth, crying, and continuous discomfort.

In addition, note that episodes caused by bacterial infections may also manifest with malaise and fever. It’s for this reason that you must consult a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Richardson, M. A. (1999). Sore throat, tonsillitis, and adenoiditis. Medical Clinics of North America83(1), 75-83.
  • Bowers, I., & Shermetaro, C. (2019). Adenoiditis. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.
  • Reyes Concepción, D., & Gómez Martínez, M. (2014). Caracterización clínico-epidemiológica de la adenoiditis crónica en la infancia. MediSur12(2), 383-389.
  • Adenoides, Recogido a 19 de septiembre en
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Subcommittee on Management of Sinusitis and Committee on Quality Improvement. Clinical practice guideline: management of sinusitis. Pediatrics. 2001 Sep;108(3):798-808.
  • Reyes Concepción, Daniel, and Margarita Gómez Martínez. “Caracterización clínico-epidemiológica de la adenoiditis crónica en la infancia.” MediSur 12.2 (2014): 383-389.
  • Sjogren, Phayvanh P., et al. “Comparison of pediatric adenoidectomy techniques.” The Laryngoscope 128.3 (2018): 745-749.
  • Jacomino, Ángel Luis, Rosa Caridad Truffin Hernández, and Anisela Expósito Pérez. “Infecciones rinofaríngeas en la infancia.” Revista Cubana de Otorrinolaringología y Cirugía de Cabeza y Cuello 3.1 (2019).
  • Jaime, M. Francisca, and M. Francisca. “Relación del reflujo gastroesofágico y manifestaciones respiratorias, desde el punto de vista de la gastroenterología pediátrica.” NEUMOLOGIA PEDIÁTRICA (2019): 126.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.