By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Everyone gets the occasional sore throat, it happens for a number of reasons and sometimes infected tonsils can cause the pain. But tonsils are not the only glands you need to worry about in your mouth.
Hidden higher in your mouth, your adenoids may also become inflamed. Inflamed adenoids, otherwise known as adenoiditis, can cause a sore throat, breathing difficulties, and recurrent respiratory infection.
Many people mistake the signs of inflamed adenoids. Here’s what you need to know about the condition and how to ease the pain.
What Are Your Adenoids?
Your adenoids, together with your tonsils, are the body’s first line of defense against germs that get into your system through your nose or mouth. Adenoids are formed from tissue and they trap germs before they get further into your body. Adenoids also attack germs by producing antibodies that help to fight infection.
You cannot easily see your adenoids. Tonsils are visible when you open your mouth. But adenoids are further back and higher up in the roof of your mouth.
In order to examine inflamed adenoids, a doctor must use a mirror and light, or take an x-ray.
While adenoids are always important, they do take on a lesser role as you get older and you can fight off infection using other means.
At the age of five or six your adenoids start to get smaller and they have virtually disappeared by the time you are a teen.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t cause problems throughout your life. Inflamed adenoids can even affect adults.
What Are Inflamed Adenoids?
Sometimes the adenoids, when they are filtering germs from the body, can get swamped by the bacteria they are fighting and become infected.
When adenoids are infected they become inflamed and swollen. This state is called adenoiditis. The condition mainly affects children but adults can suffer from inflamed adenoids too. Tonsillitis is common, with every child infected with the condition at least once (Shah, 2009) and adenoiditis is also a common problem although not every child is infected.
Signs That Your Adenoids Are Inflamed
It can be difficult to recognize the signs of inflamed adenoids. Many people mistakenly think they're having seasonal allergies.
One of the differentiating symptoms is gland swelling in your neck.
Other signs of inflamed adenoids include a sore throat, a stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, ear pain, and different types of ear problems.
Breathing through a stuffy nose is difficult so additional symptoms of inflamed adenoids add to the discomfort, including mouth breathing, speaking with a nasal tone, snoring, and sleep apnea.
Treatment of Inflamed Adenoids
Most cases of inflamed adenoids are treated with antibiotics since the condition is caused by an infection.
Surgery is sometimes performed when children have recurrent breathing problems caused by inflamed adenoids. The surgical procedure is known as an adenoidectomy and it often occurs at the same time as a tonsillectomy to remove the tonsils.
You can ease the pain of inflamed adenoids, sore throat, and breathing difficulties by natural means. We looked at recent scientific evidence to discover how inflamed adenoids can be treated with natural remedies.
1. Garlic May Help Treat Inflamed Adenoids
Recent research shows that a component of garlic is 100 times better at fighting certain types of bacteria than popular antibiotics.
Garlic could be something to help your inflamed adenoids. A 2012 study from Washington State University looked at the power of garlic against bacterial causes of food-borne illness in a lab setting and does not actually show that eating garlic can kill bacteria, but garlic has long since been credited with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial power, which could help reduce inflammation in the adenoids.
Try a mouth wash of honey and lemon juice mixed with the juice of smashed garlic cloves.
2. Take Echinacea to Treat Inflamed Adenoids
Echinacea purpurea, or purple coneflower, has long been a popular herbal remedy. Did you know that echinacea was the number one selling cold and flu remedy in the States until sulfa antibiotics came along?
Echinacea appears to offer real help to people suffering from colds and flu, as well as the symptoms of inflamed adenoids such as sore throat.
Echinacea has also been touted as a treatment for acute infections. A 2002 study from EPA-Europharma Auftragsforschung, Kronberg, Germany looked at 53 patients and found that an Echinacea combination helped enhance the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment for acute bronchitis.
3. Honey May Be a Treatment for Inflamed Adenoids
Honey is believed to treat and prevent infection, and its soothing qualities could also be of use against the sore throat that comes with inflamed adenoids.
A 2007 study from Pennsylvania State University looked at 139 children between the ages of two and five who had an upper respiratory tract infection.
Children who were given honey had fewer episodes of nighttime cough associated with adenoid infection, and also slept better.
Honey could help soothe the pain of adenoiditis caused by infection, and allow for better sleep.
4. Take Zinc to Help Remedy Inflamed Adenoids
Certain types of zinc actually prevent viruses taking hold in the nose and throat.
Your immune system does not work well when it doesn’t have enough zinc in the body and zinc deficiency is common, particularly in children who often suffer from inflamed adenoids.
A 2007 study from Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit found that zinc supplements taken by residents in a nursing home reduced the rates of infection compared to placebo.
5. Herbal Andrographis Could Help Stop Inflamed Adenoids
Andrographis is a type of shrub that grows in India and across Asia. It is believed to provide many of the same benefits as Echinacea and was used during the Indian flu epidemic in 1919 to help stop the spread of the disease.
Andrographis could work for treating inflamed adenoids because it stimulates immunity, according to a 1993 study from the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India.
A 1999 study from Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile found that treatment with the extract reduced cold symptoms in 158 adults taking the trial.
6. Use Sage to Treat Inflamed Adenoids?
A throat spray made from extract of sage helps to reduce the pain associated with the sore throat that comes with inflamed adenoids, according to a 2006 study from Sidroga GmbH in Germany, which looked at a total of 268 patients.
Relief from throat pain came in two hours after application of the spray.
7. Treat Sleep Apnea Associated with Inflamed Adenoids
Sleep apnea is a common, problematic complication of inflamed adenoids. Treating obstructive sleep apnea in children with positive airway pressure improves treatment outcomes, according to a 2012 study from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Treatment with the positive airway pressure device helped reduce sleepiness, improve quality of life, and levels of attention in children.
Since inflamed adenoids can cause sleep apnea, it is important to also treat this condition when it occurs.