Often times, tonsils are the source of infections in the throat. When the tonsils become infected they typically swell to two to three times their normal size, become red, and exude thick, yellow mucus. Symptoms of infection include fever, severe sore throat, pain with swallowing, muffled voice, and refusal by your child to eat or drink. Additionally, you may note that the lymph nodes or “glands” in your child’s neck are enlarged and tender. Tonsillitis is often viral but can also be caused by a number of bacteria, including “strep,” and frequently requires treatment with an antibiotic.
It is not unusual for children to have a few episodes of tonsillitis over the course of their lifetime. As otolaryngologists however, we typically see children who have been referred to us for evaluation of chronic or recurrent tonsil problems. In these cases, there are a few criteria based on the frequency and severity of the infections that we look at to determine if a tonsillectomy is, in fact, necessary. If the child meets the following criteria, then we consider performing a tonsillectomy:
1. Seven infections in a single year
2. Five infections per year for two years in a row
3. Three infections per year for three years in a row
4. Greater than two weeks per year of missed school or activity due to infections
5. Chronic infections which never seem to resolve
6. Complications from infections such as formation of an abscess, febrile seizures, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, etc.
Tonsillectomy is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the United States each year. The procedure is performed through the mouth and most children go home the day of surgery. A sore throat is typical after surgery and your doctor will probably elect to keep your child out of school for one to two weeks.
There are many common misconceptions that tonsillectomy is “risky” or that removal of the tonsils results in weakening of the immune system. Numerous studies have shown an improvement in the quality of life following tonsillectomy. Most doctors and parents of children who have suffered from chronic tonsil problems would agree that an appropriate tonsillectomy can be a life-changing procedure that can dramatically improve a child’s health and well-being.
Santa Clarita ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery is located at 27879 Smyth Drive in Valencia. For more information, please call 661-259-2500.
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