Tonsillectomy is a commonly performed surgery for children. This procedure may be recommended for children who have recurrent cases of tonsillitis. Tonsillectomy is often needed for children who have recurrent Strep throat, obstructive sleep apnoea, or other complications of tonsillitis such as rheumatic fever.
A tonsillectomy can relieve a great deal of discomfort and has other benefits as well. To understand more about this common procedure and the benefits, it is best to start by understanding the tonsils and their role in the body. This article provides general information about tonsillectomy in children.
The tonsils are easy to see and unfortunately for the patient, they can be even easier to see than usual when they are infected, due to swelling. They are located on both sides of the back of the throat.
In a child, the tonsils are larger in proportion to the throat than they are in an adult. This is why, when children get tonsillitis, strep throat and other conditions that can cause swollen tonsils, they will typically suffer more with the illness than an adult. It becomes difficult for them to swallow, speak and can be extremely painful.
The tonsils play a role in the immune system. This has led some people to believe that removing the tonsils might cause issues with the body’s ability to fend off infections. There is no evidence to support this, however, and the surgery generally brings a great deal of relief to children.
Tonsils and the adenoids are similar structures located at the entrance to the throat. They combine to cause similar problems. Your child’s ear nose and throat surgeon may remove these at the same time to maximise the benefits of the surgery and, of course, to avoid the child having to go through a separate surgery to deal with adenoid issues, which are also very common in children and can cause additional problems of their own.
Why the surgery is recommended
The most important reason that a doctor will recommend a tonsillectomy is simply to increase the child’s comfort and quality of life. Persistent tonsillitis and strep infections can be extremely painful for children. These infections can be extremely painful for adults, in fact, and the fact that they tend to hit children a bit harder makes them even more significant health issues for younger people.
There are other reasons why a surgeon may recommend a tonsillectomy and why parents may want to consider it. Persistent snoring and sleep apnoea that starts with tonsillitis or strep throat can end up affecting children’s schooling. Children with tonsil problems may miss a lot of school, to not be able to enjoy time with their friends and really miss out on some of the best parts of childhood. Removing the tonsils is a routine procedure, done under general anaesthetic, whilst the child is asleep.
What to expect after tonsillectomy in children
After having a tonsillectomy, your child will definitely have a very sore throat for at least a few days. After they are healed, however, the incidence of throat problems will likely be greatly reduced and the child will have healthier, happier days to enjoy.
The surgery can be intimidating for parents and children alike, but it is a very well established surgical procedure. When needed, tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy can help to alleviate many painful illnesses and can greatly improve the lives of the people who go through it. If you have questions about tonsillectomy in children, contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see an ear nose throat surgeon.