The tonsils are glands located on either side of the back of the throat. They play an important role as part of a child’s immune system during the first year of life. After a child reaches age 12-18 months, other glands begin to take over the tonsils’ immune functions. Sometimes, children are likely to catch an infection in the tonsils called tonsillitis. Also, in some children, they can cause breathing obstruction. That’s why they can be safely removed during a procedure called a tonsillectomy, if necessary. Let’s have a look at some of the common myths prevalent about tonsil removal in children and uncover the true facts for everyone.
Fact: Tonsillectomies are still a common surgery for children and teens.
Tonsil removal is one of the most common surgeries performed on children and teens, but the reasons for doing it have changed over the years. Years ago, doctors performed tonsillectomies mainly to treat chronic inflammation and infections of the tonsils, called tonsillitis. Even though surgeons still perform tonsillectomies to treat chronic tonsillitis, they now perform more tonsillectomies to treat airway obstruction.
Fact: New tonsil removal techniques limit pain, reduce risks and improve recovery time.
Nowadays, ENT surgeons use new techniques that allow them to completely remove the tonsils while limiting irritation to your child’s throat muscles and decreasing the risk of bleeding and other complications. As a result, many kids only experience a mild sore throat after the surgery. This minor pain is usually taken care of by cold foods and drinks, a mix of ibuprofen and paracetamol. Tonsillectomy usually is an outpatient procedure and most children are back to their usual routine in a week.
Fact: Although it’s rare, it’s still possible to get strep throat after a tonsil removal.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that usually occurs in the tonsils. However, in rare cases, strep throat can affect other immune glands in the throat.
Fact: Age doesn’t affect the amount of pain you experience after tonsil removal.
The amount of pain your child experiences after a tonsil removal procedure is unrelated to age. Rather, it depends upon the surgical expertise of the surgeon. In fact, being older can be an advantage during tonsil removal. That’s because older children have bigger mouths—and the bigger your child’s mouth, the easier it is for the surgeon to reach his or her tonsils. This can result in a shorter procedure.
Fact: There are no dietary restrictions on children who undergo tonsil removal.
After a tonsillectomy, healing occurs regardless of whether they eat solid, crunchy or soft foods. Although your child’s throat may be a little sore at first, most children begin eating and drinking normally again a few days after the surgery.