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Tonsillectomies and children

Today, many parents wonder if it is wise for children to have the tonsils taken out. Tonsillectomy may be recommended if your child has any of the following:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Obstructed breathing during sleep
  • Throat infections or throat abscesses that keep returning

In most cases, inflammation of the tonsils can be successfully treated with antibiotics. There are always risks associated with surgery.

You and your child's doctor may consider a tonsillectomy if:

  • Your child has frequent infections (7 or more times in 1 year, 5 or more times over 2 years, or 3 or more times over 3 years)
  • Your child misses a lot of school
  • Your child snores, has trouble breathing, and has sleep apnea
  • Your child has an abscess or growth on their tonsils

Alternative Names

Children and tonsillectomies

References

Baugh RF, Archer SM, Mitchell RB, et al. Clinical practice guideline: tonsillectomy in children. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Jan;144(1 Suppl):S1-30. PMID: 21493257 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21493257.

Goldstein NA. Evaluation and management of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. In: Lesperance MM, Flint PW, eds. Cummings Pediatric Otolaryngology. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 5.

Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 383.

Update Date 1/11/2016

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