Since our tonsils perform a service by acting as part of our immune system, it can be puzzling to know when your child needs a tonsillectomy.
These small, pink lymphatic tissues are located on both side of our throat and help to filter and protect us from bacteria and viruses. As long as our tonsils are healthy and doing their job, all is well. Unfortunately, they often become inflamed and infected.
So, how do you know when your child needs a tonsillectomy?
Obvious Warning Signs
Does your child get frequent sore throats? Are they painful and make it difficult for them to swallow? These are fairly normal occurrences in many-a-child’s early life and can be looked upon like they are “no big deal.” The symptoms are treated with an antibiotic and usually clear up. On the other hand, defining frequent can help.
If your child gets tonsillitis seven times in a year, or five times for two years in a row, or three times per year for three years in a row, this might be defined as chronic tonsillitis, and something for you and your physician to be concerned about.
Chronic tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils are infected, inflamed and enlarged. It can make it not only difficult to swallow, but hard to breathe. Sleep disturbances or apnea can be a real issue with chronic tonsillitis in both children and adults.
Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?
Having a tonsillectomy is a common surgery, but it is not without its risks.
If your child is missing so much school each year due to tonsillitis, it will most likely affect their academic performance. In addition, trouble sleeping may make it harder to concentrate and stay focused.
Chronic tonsillitis is also associated with heart problems and obesity.
Although our tonsils are part of our immune system, we don’t need them to stay healthy, and conversely, if they become the source of sickness, it may be more prudent to remove them.
Making the Decision
Confer with one of our ENT specialists about your child’s symptoms and the frequency of their infections. See your physician:
- When the pain is only on one side of the throat
- If your child has a severe sore throat and it is painful to swallow
- If your child has a hoarse voice
- If your child has fever
- If lymph nodes in the neck are swollen
- If there is a white or yellow coating on the tonsils.
Although more children have their tonsils removed, adults can also require a tonsillectomy to improve their symptoms.
Discuss the frequency of your child’s symptoms with a specialist at Coastal Ear, Nose & Throat to confirm whether or not your child needs a tonsillectomy.