The presence of soft, spongy growths in the * nasal passages, commonly called adenoids, is responsible for considerable ill-health amongst children. The condition is due to an unhealthy state of the membrane lining the nose and throat, and is often associated with enlarged tonsils.
The adenoids vary in size from a pea to a large bean, and, although soft in texture, masses of them sometimes obstruct altogether the nasal passages. The child cannot breathe naturally by the nose, and " mouth breathing " is a marked sign of adenoid disease. The expression is vacant, the voice is dull or nasal; the intellect, as well as the physical health, is adversely affected.
Chronic catarrh of the nose may exist, and the child is subject to constant "cold in the head." The local catarrh often spreads up the Eustachian tubes (little passages' between the throat and middle ear), with the result that deafness is a very common complication of adenoids.
The child appears stupid, partly from impaired hearing, partly because the mental development is hindered owing to the physical condition. Both mental and physical health are hampered because the blood is not getting sufficient oxygen, owing to the obstruction to natural respiration.
The "night terrors" of the adenoid child are due to the circulation of poisons in the blood, which irritate the nerve-cells of the brain. These poisons would be got rid of or expired by the lungs if the air-passages were clear. Pigeon breast, barrel chest, and other deformities are apt to appear if adenoids are neglected for any time.
Headaches, deafness, the depression occasioned by constant colds, hinder a child's school studies, and add to his apparent stupidity.
It is not difficult for a mother to detect the presence of "adenoids in a child. The mouth breathing, the vacant expression, the loud snoring at night, call her attention first to the matter. If nothing is done, and the child is left to " grow out of it," matters get worse. The expression becomes more and more stupid and vacant, the child is constantly suffering from colds, sore throat, and attacks of earache and deafness.
The adenoids sometimes disappear, but after a year or two the hearing may be permanently impaired, and the whole mental and physical growth is stunted.
In most cases operation is necessary, and the sooner it is done the better. The operation is a very minor one, and immediate improvement in general health follows. In very slight cases attention to the general health and breathing exercises will do a great deal of good.
Change of air, diet, and healthy surroundings are necessary whether an operation is decided upon or not. A course of cod-liver oil is often beneficial. Deep breathing should be practised for ten minutes twice daily with the mouth closed until the habit of mouth breathing is curea
If these measures are not followed by marked improvement within a reasonable time, operation should not be delayed. The unhealthy condition of the throat and nose encourages the presence of germs, and tubercular disease or consumption may follow adenoids.