Tonsils and Tonsillectomy Basic Facts for Parents


Cholesteatoma and other chronic ear problems

Tonsillitis is one of the most common Ear Nose and Throat problems in children and adolescents, and most people know someone who had their tonsils removed as a child. This surgical procedure is known as a tonsillectomy. Like any surgical procedure involving young people, the prospect of a tonsillectomy is likely to inspire some anxiety, both in parents and children. Fortunately, modern medicine provides a variety of solutions for Ear Nose and Throat problems in children and adolescents.

Why do people need their tonsils removed?

The answer to this question has changed greatly over time. Thirty years ago, most tonsillectomies in children and adolescents (90%) were performed for chronic infections; however, in 2015, only 20% are performed for infection, while 80% are for breathing difficulties like sleep disordered breathing (sleep apnea).

What are the benefits of tonsillectomies?

When young people experience enlarged tonsils, they are three times more likely to also suffer from sleep apnea. This can lead to persistent fatigue and difficult performing well in school. And because enlarged tonsils are some of the most common Ear Nose and Throat problems in children and adolescents, ENT doctors are skilled in their removal and treatment. Additionally, if a child does experience frequent infections in their tonsils, removing them can save the child significant pain and poor health in the future.

What are the risks of a tonsillectomy?

Although this is a relatively simple surgical procedure, it still comes with the usual risks of any surgery, including allergic reaction, complications with anesthesia, pain, and blood loss.

What about adenoiditis and adenoid hypertrophy, is that the same thing?

Yes and no. When a tonsillectomy is performed in children, ENT doctors usually remove the adenoids as well. Adenoid hypertrophy is the unusual growth of the adenoids, similar to tonsillitis. Because the adenoids are another part of the tonsil system, and their combined removal is known as a tonsilloadenoidectomy.

If you have any more questions about these common ENT problems, you should consult a doctor in your area for more information.

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