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Understanding Tonsillectomies for Children

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Tonsils are lymphatic tissue lumps that work with adenoids to support the immune system by trapping viruses and bacteria that when breathing and swallowing. Ironically, they sometimes get infected by the viruses and bacteria hence, tonsillectomies among kids. Tonsillectomy is the removal of tonsils and adenoids; if one is problematic, chances are that the other is infected and could become problematic later.

According to Dr. Neil Chadha, a paediatric otolaryngologist who is known on this website, tonsillectomy is the second common surgical procedure performed on children between three and seven years. A few years back, the surgical procedure was considered a cure-all for any throat infection that affected kids. Fortunately, an evidence based criteria was formulated to determine whether kids qualify for the surgical procedure or not.  To qualify for tonsillectomy, a kid must have had at least seven throat infections like strep or tonsillitis a year for two consecutive years or three infections per year for three consecutive years.

Today, throat infections account for 20 percent of tonsillectomies while sleep apnea accounts for the other 80 percent. Oversized adenoids and tonsils make it hard for kids to breathe at night, disrupts their sleep and as a result they develop behavioural and concentration issues during the day. Expectedly, some parents may be sceptical about the surgical procedure by questioning how their children will function without a part of their body. Dr. Neil Chadha explains that tonsils and adenoids outlive their usefulness after the toddler stage; adenoids shrink at age 7 to 10.

The decision to perform tonsillectomy should be determined after weighing its pros and cons based on the health issue your child is facing. It is an elective surgical procedure and not an emergency; some kids outgrow throat infections. Hence, some doctors may recommend the wait and see approach because tonsillectomies should not be taken lightly.