When Does My Child Need a Tonsillectomy?

Daniel A. Larson, MD
Southwest Ohio ENT Specialists

Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing the tonsils, two small lumps of lymphoid tissue located in the back of the throat. This procedure is commonly performed on children and is one of the most common surgical procedures for children in the United States.

The tonsils play a role in the body’s immune system, but when they become infected or enlarged, they can cause problems such as difficulty breathing, frequent tonsillitis, and sleep apnea. Tonsillectomy is recommended for children who have recurrent tonsillitis, which is defined as having more than 7 episodes of tonsillitis per year for one year, or 5 episodes per year for 2 years, or 3 episodes per year for more than 3 years. This procedure can also be recommended for children who have severe tonsillitis that does not respond to antibiotics or for those who have sleep apnea caused by enlarged tonsils.

Tonsillectomy is typically performed as a same-day (outpatient) procedure under general anesthesia. The recovery period can vary, but most children will experience some pain, swelling, and difficulty swallowing for the first week after the procedure. Children are typically able to return to school and normal activities within one to two weeks after the procedure.

It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of tonsillectomy with your child’s otolaryngologist. Your doctor will be able to help you determine whether this procedure is the best option for your child and will provide you with the necessary information to make an informed decision.

If you have concerns about your child’s tonsils, it is important to discuss the benefits and risks of tonsillectomy with your local, friendly Otolaryngologist at (937) 496-2600.


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