Start Your Path To Better ENT Health!

Should Your Child Have Their Tonsils Removed?

ent doctor inspecting child's tonsil area

An ENT doctor will perform tonsil surgery multiple times per year. It's one of the most common services provided, typically for children that are suffering from various tonsil problems. Parents will often assume that their child needs to have their tonsils removed if they suffer from tonsilitis. Technically, this isn't always the case. 

Your tonsils are part of your body's immune system, and they contain cells and antibodies that can prevent infections. This may put a lot of parents off the idea of having them removed from their child's throat, but the truth is that the human body doesn't need tonsils. Your child will have various other ways of fighting off infections, which are more effective than the tonsils. 

With that in mind, should your child have their tonsils removed or not? An ENT doctor won't instantly jump to the conclusion of removing the tonsils of every child with tonsilitis or swollen tonsils. Instead, a few conditions need to be met before we consider removing the tonsils:

Frequent sore throats

Has your child had seven or more severe sore throats in the last year? Or, have they suffered from five in each of the last two years or three in each of the last three years?

If the answer to these questions is yes, it shows that your child has a clear problem with sore throats, and the tonsils usually cause it. In this situation, they should have their tonsils removed to prevent persistent sore throats. 

Regular bouts of tonsilitis

The same frequency applies to tonsilitis as well. If your child is suffering from it regularly, then they need to have their tonsils removed. It's not good to persistently have tonsillitis as it's incredibly painful but will also require your child to constantly be on antibiotics, which we want to avoid. 

Similarly, children with tonsilitis that aren't disappearing after a course of antibiotics will also need their tonsils removed. If the tonsilitis isn't responding to treatment, it tells us there must be a complication and the safest course of action is to perform tonsil surgery. 

Swollen tonsils that disrupt breathing

Your tonsils can swell as a response to different things, and they usually shrink back to a normal size relatively shortly. However, there are cases where a child can have swollen tonsils and adenoids that make it hard to breathe. The swelling causes a blockage in their throat, which means they struggle to get enough oxygen in their lungs. 

Naturally, this is a serious problem and your child should have their tonsils removed to correct it and restore normal breathing. 

An abscess behind the tonsils

In some rare cases, your child may have a severe infection that causes an abscess to form behind the tonsils. This is where a growth forms that is swollen and can be full of pus. Due to its location behind the tonsils, it can become infected and lead to complications. 

Therefore, we usually recommend tonsil surgery in this scenario, ensuring the abscess doesn't get any worse. 

Keeping all of this in mind, if your child is suffering from any of the above, they should have their tonsils removed. They shouldn't have them removed if they have tonsilitis less than the amount stated earlier. Also, swollen tonsils or tonsil stones aren't a reason for surgery unless they cause further complications or block the airway. 

How long does tonsil surgery take?

For an experienced ENT doctor, tonsil surgery will only take around 20-30 minutes. It is not a complicated procedure, and your child will be under general anesthesia the whole time. This means they won't feel a thing during the surgery.

What happens after tonsil surgery?

The good news is that most children can go home the same day after surgery. They will be expected to feel a slight soreness in the throat for the next few days, though most patients recover within a week or so. You should feed them something cold after to soothe any soreness and be sure to make their meals easy for them to swallow. 

If your child experiences any complications or severe reactions to the surgery, call your ENT doctor right away to explain the symptoms. 

Contact us to learn more

Do you think your child might need tonsil surgery? Are you looking for more information regarding tonsil surgery for kids? Get in touch with the ENT Specialists team today, and we can help you learn everything you need to know. Call us at 402-397-0670 to ask any questions.