One or more small masses of lymphatic tissue, similar to the tonsils, that lie behind the nasal cavity close to where it joins the mouth cavity. They reach their maximum size around the ages 6-8, then begin to shrink until they have entirely disappeared by adolescence. Sometimes in childhood, the adenoids become infected and grossly enlarged as a result of the repeated throat and respiratory infections. In such cases adenoids may cause obstruction to breathing through the nose, thick nasal speech, snoring, and repeated ear infections which may lead to deafness. Unless there is a severe and troublesome blockage to the eustachian tubes which connect the throat with the middle ear, surgeons these days usually don’t remove adenoids, preferring instead to treat infections as they occur and to allow the natural process of shrinkage to eventually solve the problem.
A benign (non-cancerous) tumor caused by localized overgrowth of the cells of any gland. Adenomas vary in size from microscopic to larger than a football. Symptoms may be cosmetic, or because the tumor presses on nearby organs and tissues, or because the adenoma produces an excess of the usual secretion of the gland. Generally, adenomas are removed surgically because a definite diagnosis that the tumor is non-cancerous cannot be made until it is examined under a microscope. If the tumor proves to be malignant (cancerous), it is known as an adenocarcinoma.