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Tonsillectomies and children

Alternative Names

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 doctor may consider a tonsillectomy if:

  • Your child has frequent infections (7 or more times in 1 year, or 5 or more times over 2 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

Sterni LM, Tunkel DE. Obstructive sleep apnea in children. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al., eds. Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 54th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 182.

Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 375.

Updated: 11/7/2011

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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