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Toddler tonsillectomy

December 5th, 2017 | By: Sydney Loney
Does your child have trouble breathing at night? It might be time to take her tonsils out.

In This Article

Toddler tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomies are the second most common surgical procedure in children (ear tubes are number one), says Neil Chadha, a pediatric otolaryngologist at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. “It used to be considered something of a cure-all,” Chadha says. “But now we have more evidenced-based criteria that we use to decide if it’s really the right thing to do.” Tonsillectomies are most common in kids age three and up, and those between ages three to five tend to recover fastest, simply because they have less tissue to take out.

What are tonsils?

Tonsils are lumps of lymphatic tissue on both sides of the back of the throat that, along with the adenoids (made up of the same tissue, only behind the nasal cavity) help support the immune system by trapping bacteria and viruses when you breathe or swallow. Yes, they’re there for a reason, Chadha says, but you have more of the same tissue elsewhere and tonsils and adenoids usually outlive their usefulness by the toddler stage anyway.

In fact, adenoids begin to shrink after about age five, and most adults no longer have them. Tonsils and adenoids are usually taken out together because if one is enlarged, chances are the other is too. Adenoids are occasionally removed on their own to unblock the nasal passage and it’s not a myth that they can grow back, although it’s fairly uncommon.