Unfortunately, you cannot just push a button on your son or daughter and get a read-out as to what is wrong with them. You can go to the doctor and get a diagnosis for symptoms, viruses, and bacterial infections, but when do you really know when it is time to have your child’s tonsils taken out? No one single symptom exists that says, “Now! Now’s the time!”, rather, a combination of symptoms and ailments will let you know when it is time to schedule your child a tonsillectomy.
Kathleen M. Reilly, in her article “5 Signs Your Child’s Tonsils Are Ready to Come Out” found in Parents Magazine, gives a clear overview of five common ailments that, when combined, are good indicators that a child has tonsillitis and needs surgery .
Does your child always breathe through their mouth? At night, do they snore, and has their snoring worsened over the last few months or year? Swollen, enlarged tonsils will make your child feel like their nose is stuffed up. To breathe more easily, they will breathe through their mouth. At night, when they are sleeping, their air passages will be slightly blocked (not badly enough to cause suffocation) causing him to snore .
Snoring, Bad Breath and Mouth Breathing are Telltale Signs
If you notice that your child’s mouth-breathing and snoring coincide with an allergy season, and soon subside, it is best to give them some saline nasal drops and put a humidifier by their bed at night. These are common symptoms for allergies and should be no cause for alarm.
If you notice that he continues to breathe through his mouth, and the snoring persists or worsens, it may be time to talk to your pediatrician about a tonsillectomy. This is especially true if your child has persistent bad breath. If you are sure that he is brushing his teeth enough, and he still has persistent halitosis, this could be a sign of infection in his throat or on his tonsils .
If your child is seemingly always suffering from ear infections, remember that the ear, nose, and throat are grouped together in medicine because they work very closely together. Often, chronic ear infections in children are caused by infected adenoids, which are located right next to the opening of the ear. If this is the case, your pediatrician may recommend ear grommets, a tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy .
If your child has developed chronic and recurring strep throat, it may be time for a tonsillectomy. Tonsillitis is often caused by a virus, but it can also be caused by the bacteria that cause strep throat. In this case (i.e. viral tonsillitis), the tonsils will swell and become inflamed, making it difficult and painful to swallow .
If your child tests positive for strep throat more than five times in a single year, your pediatrician will most likely recommend a tonsillectomy as the strep bacteria have essentially set up a permanent colony on the tonsils. That colony will lie dormant for a time and then erupt into infection. At this point, this cycle won’t stop until the tonsils are removed .
Whilst you cannot tell whether it is time to take your child’s tonsils out by one symptom alone, fortunately, the combination of symptoms that let you know are all pretty well clustered together. If your child is snoring or cannot breathe through their nose when they are otherwise fine and showing no signs of a cold or sinus infection, his tonsils are most likely swollen and inflamed. You can check for white spots on the tonsils as a sign of strep throat.
If they are constantly suffering from ear infections or strep, and they have persistent bad breath, it is time to talk to the doctor. Rest assured, if you cannot tell when it is time for a tonsillectomy, your doctor will be able to make a diagnosis and recommend surgery if they feel it is necessary.
If you have questions about how to tell when your child needs a tonsillectomy contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see an ear nose and throat specialist.