When Is the Best Age for a Tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy is one of the most common surgeries performed on children. It’s recommended in cases of frequent throat infection or when the tonsils are chronically inflamed and grow large enough to block the airway. 

There isn’t a perfect age for your child to have a tonsillectomy. Surgery to remove your child’s tonsils is recommended only after careful consideration.

Our top-quality providers at Southern ENT in southeast Louisiana are experts in pediatric ENT care. Tonsillectomy surgery is usually well-tolerated. Most children are referred by their pediatrician because of repeat infections that cause them to miss school and other activities, or because swollen tonsils are causing problems eating and breathing.

Our experts discuss what to consider when deciding if the time is right for your child to have a tonsillectomy.

Excessive infections

Children are susceptible to health issues affecting the ears, nose, and throat. But some children experience recurrent tonsillitis and throat infections despite treatment. This is different from a mere sore throat. Children with this problem may have areas of pus or develop an abscess. They’re often treated with antibiotics and home rest.

Some children experience several throat infections each year and may even have infections back to back. If your child has repeated throat infections in one year or has them every year for three years in a row, a tonsillectomy may help relieve these recurring infections. 

Airway obstruction

In some children the tonsils grow so large that they block the airway. This can lead to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When your child lies down, the force of gravity can cause enlarged tonsils to obstruct the airway, leading to frequent pauses in breathing during sleep.

Loud snoring is a sign that your child may have this problem. If you watch your child closely while sleeping, you may be able to notice pauses in breathing. 

OSA can lead to serious health problems in children and can also affect behavior. Children with OSA may feel tired during the day, have trouble concentrating at school, and may be irritable and moody.

A sleep study is used to confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea, but one isn’t always necessary. Sometimes it’s clear that the tonsils are obstructing the airway.

Deciding the right time to consider tonsillectomy

It’s best to work with an ENT to decide if a tonsillectomy is appropriate for your child. After a comprehensive evaluation, we discuss your child’s case and carefully talk over the risks and benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

Can adults benefit from tonsillectomy?

While tonsillectomy is more commonly performed on children, it may also be appropriate for adults with OSA, recurrent infections, abscesses, and tumors. Under these circumstances, tonsillectomy can eliminate symptoms and improve quality of life. 

Recovery can be longer in adults compared to children.  

If your child is suffering from problems related to their tonsils, rely on our board-certified ENT physicians at Southern ENT to perform a careful diagnosis and discuss your options. To schedule a visit, call the office nearest you or request an appointment online.

Our offices are located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Youngsville, Louisiana.

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