Open your mouth wide, and you will see two small tissue masses on either side of the back of your throat. These are your ‘tonsils‘. Further back in the throat (near the nasal passages) and just above the tonsils lay a pair of glands known as the adenoids.
These glands are quite important as they help protect the body against bacterial and viral infections. They play a key role in filtering lymphatic fluid and trapping germs that pass through the nose and mouth.(1) However, like tonsils, adenoids are also vulnerable to infection as they are a part of the continuously functioning lymphatic system.
When the adenoids become infected, they get inflamed and swollen, leading to a health problem known as ‘adenoiditis’.
Generally, adenoiditis does not occur in adults. In fact, the adenoids begin shrinking naturally by the age of 5 and virtually disappear by the time a person reaches his teens. Thus, adenoiditis is a condition that primarily affects children.(1)
Causes of Enlarged Adenoids
A few common causes associated with this condition are:
- Weak immune system
- Tangier disease
Signs and Symptoms of Enlarged Adenoids
Some common symptoms of adenoiditis are:
- A sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Swollen neck glands
- Ear pain
- Ear infection
Additional symptoms may include:
- Breathing through the mouth
- Speaking with a nasal tone
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleep apnea
When to See the Doctor
Proper diagnosis of the problem is important. So, see your doctor if you suspect your child has adenoiditis. In many cases, antibiotic medication or even surgery is suggested for treatment.
However, before opting for a surgery or antibiotics that may lead to a variety of side effects, you can try some natural remedies to reduce the size of the adenoids.
Managing Enlarged Adenoids in Children at Home
Here are a few safe and natural home remedies to help your child suffering from enlarged adenoids.
1. Gargle with Salt Water
Perhaps the most effective remedy for enlarged adenoids in children is salt water gargle.(2)
While the warm water has a soothing effect on the sore throat, the salt helps kill the infection-causing microbes. In addition, the salt helps relieve pain and bring down the swelling.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of table salt in 1 cup of warm water.
- Let your child gargle with the solution. Make sure that your child spits it out completely after gargling.
- Repeat this as often as possible throughout the day for a speedy recovery.
2. A Spoonful of Cod Liver Oil
Another good remedy for this condition is cod liver oil.
It contains several nutrients, such as selenium, that support effective lymphatic flow. Moreover, the essential fats present in cod oil are effective in reducing inflammation. Thus, it helps in shrinking the adenoids.
A 2010 study published in Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology notes that daily supplementation of lemon-flavored cod liver oil and a multivitamin-mineral supplement for children can help reduce upper respiratory tract infections in children over time.(3)
Also, the vitamin (A and D) and omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil offer anti-inflammatory and anti-infection benefits.
Cod liver oil is available as a supplement or liquid. The liquid form is most suitable for children under age 12.
You can give about 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil to your child (aged 1 year or more) daily. You may also consult your doctor regarding the right dosage and the best way to give cod liver oil to your child.
3. Add Garlic to your Child’s Diet
The sulfur-containing compounds in garlic have strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help deal with enlarged adenoids.(4)
The compounds can combat and destroy pathogenic or disease-producing bacteria. They also play a role in controlling and reversing the inflammatory process in the body.
For the treatment of this condition, garlic should be taken raw.
- Give your child a mixture of 1 to 2 smashed garlic cloves, a little lemon juice, and some honey, 2 or 3 times a day. DO NOT give honey to children less than 1 year of age.
- If your child likes salad or pasta, you can also mix a healthy amount of garlic into these dishes.
4. Give Ginger Mix to your Child
Ginger is another effective remedy for respiratory infections in both children and adults, thanks to its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.(5)
- Mix together 1 teaspoon of raw honey and 4 drops each of fresh ginger juice and lemon juice. Give this mixture to your child once or twice daily for 4 or 5 days.
- Another option is to simmer 4 or 5 slices of fresh ginger root in 1½ cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain it and then add a little lemon juice and honey. Let your child drink this ginger tea 2 or 3 times a day for a few days.
5. Give them a Soothing Honey Drink
When consumed daily, honey helps heal enlarged adenoids very quickly.
- Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw honey and a little lemon juice (freshly squeezed, not bottled) in 1 cup of water.
- Optionally, add a pinch of pepper powder to it as it helps relieve congestion.
- Give this mixture to your child twice daily for 1 week to relieve the pain, swelling, and inflammation.
6. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is also beneficial for children with enlarged adenoids. It helps relieve the nasal congestion caused by swollen adenoid glands that often lead to snoring or noisy breathing.(8)
- Give steam inhalation to your child 2 or 3 times a day until you see improvement. It is best to use a hot shower to avoid the risk of accidental burns. Do this a few times daily until the symptoms subside. It soothes the throat and alleviates the symptoms of swollen adenoids.
7. Make them Sip on Basil Tea
Basil is another very effective home remedy for adenoiditis, due to its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.(9)
Also, its healing nature and soothing property help reduce swelling and pain as well as speed up the healing process.
- Add 10 to 12 basil leaves to 2 cups of water.
- Boil it for 10 minutes.
- Strain it and then add the juice from half lemon to the solution.
- Add 1 teaspoon of honey to sweeten it.
- Give your child this soothing basil tea 3 times a day for about 1 week.
8. A Warm Glass of Turmeric Milk
Turmeric contains curcumin that has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.(10)
This therapeutic herb can bring down the swelling of enlarged adenoids. It also helps reduce pain and facilitates healing.
- Give your child warm turmeric milk to drink twice daily. To make turmeric milk, boil 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1½ cups of milk for 5 to 10 minutes. You may also add a cinnamon stick. Strain and add honey before drinking.
- Another option is to give turmeric to your child is to mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with enough honey to make a paste. Give this mixture to your child to eat twice daily for 1 week.
9. Increase the Fluid Intake
Keeping your child well hydrated is very important while treating enlarged adenoids.
Fluids can ease a sore throat and prevent dehydration. Also, adequate hydration is good for the immune system. Water helps ensure that all your cells and organs, including the adenoids, function properly.(11)
Apart from fresh water, encourage your child to keep sipping some coconut water, cold lemon water, homemade broth, warm milk, or fruit juice throughout the day.
10. Add Foods Rich in Vitamin C to their Diet
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for a growing child. This water-soluble vitamin supports the immune system and helps ensure quick recovery from infections such as adenoiditis.
A diet rich in vitamin C helps your child’s body fight the infection.(12)
Some vitamin C-rich foods that you can give your child to eat are bell peppers, kale, broccoli, strawberries, lemons, grapefruits, kiwis, pineapples, blackberries, tomatoes, spinach, swiss chard, and oranges.
11. Supplement their Diet with Echinacea
Echinacea is also a safe and effective home remedy for enlarged adenoids in children. This herb is a natural booster of the immune system and particularly affects the lymphatic system in a positive way.(13)
For decades, this ingredient has been used in treating several diseases and health issues, including infections and colds. It is available in various forms, such as liquid and capsules. Below mentioned is the recommeded dosage for Echinacea supplements. However, consult your doctor for correct dosage before starting with the supplements yourself.
For Children 2 to 4 years: 1 Tablet 1 to 2 times daily.
For Children 4 to 12 years: 1 Tablet 2 to 3 times daily.
For Children over 12 years: 2 Tablet 3 to 4 times daily.
For best results, use echinacea as soon as you notice the symptoms. Continue using this remedy for at least 7 to 10 days.
- Wrap some ice cubes in a towel and place the cold compress on your child’s neck to provide some relief.
- Stop your child from talking too much.
- Use a humidifier to moisten the air. It will help soothe your child’s sore throat.
- Adenoids | Enlarged Adenoids | Adenoid Removal. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/adenoids.html. Published March 6, 2018.
- Noda T, Ojima T, Hayasaka S, Murata C, Hagihara A. Gargling for Oral Hygiene and the Development of Fever in Childhood- A Population-Based Study In Japan. Journal of Epidemiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3798579/. Published January 5, 2012
- Linday LA. Cod liver oil, young children, and upper respiratory tract infections. Current neurology and neuroscience reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21677119. Published December 2010.
- DY, Li H, Lim HJ, Lee HJ, Jeon R, author J-HR. Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Sulfur-Containing Compounds from Garlic. Journal of Medicinal Food. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3491620/. Published November 2012.
- Chang JS, Wang KC, Yeh CF, Shieh DE, Chiang LC. Fresh ginger (Zingiberofficinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. Current neurology and neuroscience reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23123794. Published January 9, 2013.
- Mandal MD, Mandal S. Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3609166/. Published April 2011.
- Goldman RD. Honey for treatment of a cough in children. CFP MFC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264806/. Published December 2014.
- Akhavani MA, Baker RHJ. Steam inhalation treatment for children – PubMed Central (PMC). British Journal of General Practise. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472796/. Published July 2005.
- Cohen MM. Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/. Published 2014.
- Prasad S. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Current neurology and neuroscience reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/. Published January 1, 1970.
- Guppy MPB, Mickan SM, Mar CBD. “Drink plenty of fluids”: a systematic review of evidence for this recommendation in acute respiratory infections. The BMJ. https://www.bmj.com/content/328/7438/499. Published February 26, 2004.
- Hemilä H. Vitamin C and Infections. Current neurology and neuroscience reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28353648. Published March 29, 2017.
- Zhai Z, Wu L, Senchina DS, et al. Enhancement of Innate and Adaptive Immune Functions by Multiple Echinacea Species. HHS Public Access. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2362099/. Published September 2010.