By Nico Strydom
Tonsils serve a specific purpose in young children but can give problems when they become infected.
What are tonsils and adenoids?
Tonsils are nodes of lymph tissue on both sides at the back of the throat. Adenoids, or nose tonsils, are similar tissue higher up in the throat close to the nose.
Tonsils and nose tonsils help children to build up their immune system and prevent infections by capturing bacteria and viruses when you breathe or swallow.
Tonsils and nose tonsils can appear to grow during childhood and start shrinking when a child is between four and seven years old. By the time adulthood is reached, they will have disappeared almost completely.
However, tonsils often become infected.
What problems can tonsils cause?
When a child’s tonsils become infected regularly, they can be severely swollen and very sore. It can also happen that a child’s tonsils are bigger than normal, which can cause the airway to be blocked and result in difficulty to breathe through the nose.
Enlarged tonsils can therefore affect a child’s sleep severely as the child can stop breathing for spells. This can also cause the child to snore, be restless, perspire and constantly feel tired.
Infected tonsils can also result in regular throat infections. These can be accompanied by fever and swollen lymph glands. Regular throat infections refer to six to seven times per year.
Should I have my child’s tonsils removed?
If your child has problems with his or her tonsils your doctor will refer you to a specialist. Discuss all the possible options, such as antibiotics and an operation, with the doctor.
When the operation to remove the tonsils is considered, the pros and cons must be taken into account. As with any other operation, there are risks such as infection and problems with anaesthetics.
What happens during a tonsillectomy (tonsil operation)?
The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes. It is done through the mouth and there are usually two options, namely total removal of both tonsils or just the removal of the tonsil tissue, with a small layer that is left to protect the throat muscles.
Usually children have to stay at home for a few days after the operation and it can take a few weeks to recover completely.
Kids Health: https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/tonsils-out.html
Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/removing-tonsils-and-adenoids-right-for-your-child/
Today’s Parent: https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/kids-health/should-you-have-your-kids-tonsils-removed/
Harvard Health: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/child-need-tonsillectomy-2018032013504