Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Most people have heard of tonsils, but not everyone knows what their purpose is or why they sometimes need to be removed. Tonsils are made of glandular tissue and are located on both sides of the throat. They trap bacteria and virus that enter the throat and produce antibodies to help fight infection.
Tonsillitis occurs when they become infected and swollen. Symptoms of tonsillitis include:
red, swollen, sore throat, sometimes with a white or yellow coating on the tonsils
pain or discomfort when swallowing
swollen lymph nodes in neck
Antibiotics are sometimes effective against tonsillitis, and they have replaced surgery as the standard treatment. If enlarged tonsils are left alone, they often shrink by themselves. However, your doctor may suggest the removal of your child’s tonsils, known as a tonsillectomy if your child has the following:
persistent and/or recurrent tonsillitis
frequent sore throats
frequent throat infections
swollen tonsils that make it hard to breath
obstructive sleep apnea, which is a condition in which your child may stop breathing for a few seconds at a time because of enlarged tonsils that may block the airway
If your doctor decides a tonsillectomy is the best treatment for your child, you can help prepare your child for the surgery talking with him or her about what to expect. During a tonsillectomy:
Your child will receive a general anesthetic, which means that the surgery will be performed in an operating room and an anesthesiologist will monitor.
Your child will be asleep for about 20 minutes.
Your child will not need to have an incision because the surgeon can get to your child’s tonsils through his or her open mouth and will then remove the tonsils through a series of incisions and will then cauterize or seal off the blood vessels in your child’s throat.
Your child will wake up in a recovery area and in most cases will only be in the hospital for 5 to 10 hours. However, if your child has difficulty breathing or shows signs of bleeding he or she will have to return immediately to the operating room. Children under 3 and children who have chronic diseases usually stay overnight for observation.
There will be pain and discomfort following the surgery, which can affect your child’s eating and drinking, as well as his or her daily activities, but your child should recover within a week or two.