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Tonsillectomies and children

Children and tonsillectomies

Information

Today, many parents wonder if it is wise for children to have the tonsils taken out. Tonsillectomy may be recommended if your child has any of the following:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Obstructed breathing during sleep
  • Throat infections or throat abscesses that keep returning

In most cases, inflammation of the tonsils can be successfully treated with antibiotics. There are always risks associated with surgery.

You and your child's health care provider may consider a tonsillectomy if:

  • Your child has frequent infections (7 or more times in 1 year, 5 or more times over 2 years, or 3 or more times over 3 years).
  • Your child misses a lot of school.
  • Your child snores, has trouble breathing, and has sleep apnea.
  • Your child has an abscess or growth on their tonsils.

References

Baugh RF, Archer SM, Mitchell RB, et al. Clinical practice guideline: tonsillectomy in children. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011;144(1 Suppl):S1-S30. PMID: 21493257 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21493257.

Goldstein NA. Evaluation and management of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. In: Lesperance MM, Flint PW, eds. Cummings Pediatric Otolaryngology. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 5.

Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 383.

    • Tonsillectomy

      Tonsillectomy - illustration

      The tonsils are made up of lymphoid tissue and help fight against infections. However, some people with larger tonsils, particularly in children, may have many sore throats and ear infections, or trouble breathing. In these cases, surgical removal of the tonsils, a tonsillectomy, can be beneficial.

      Tonsillectomy

      illustration

      • Tonsillectomy

        Tonsillectomy - illustration

        The tonsils are made up of lymphoid tissue and help fight against infections. However, some people with larger tonsils, particularly in children, may have many sore throats and ear infections, or trouble breathing. In these cases, surgical removal of the tonsils, a tonsillectomy, can be beneficial.

        Tonsillectomy

        illustration

      Review Date: 9/5/2017

      Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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