This tonsil health article begins with a definition: a tonsil is a little mass of lymphatic tissue located in the wall of the pharynx at the back of the throat of man and other mammals. The word is used most frequently to design the palatine tonsils in man, although it can be used for any of the three sets of tonsils. In tonsil health, the palatine tonsils are a pair of oval-shaped masses sticking out from both sides of the oral pharynx at the back of the mouth cavity.
Surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids was one of the most widespread operations performed on children in the US. However, you should know that the tonsils are not just some worthless pieces of tissue that block our view of the throat, and tonsil surgery is not without risk. Some procedures are done for unnecessary reasons:
1. Large tonsils – the fact that tonsils are large does not mean that they are infected; tonsils are normally larger during childhood.
2. Frequent colds and viral sore throats – a number of studies have shown that this procedure does not reduce the incidence of viral upper respiratory tract infections.
3. Recurring strep throat – recent studies have shown that a child does not have fewer streptococcal infections of the throat after the tonsils are removed without he or she experiences 7 or more strep infections per year (a rare occurrence).
4. Repeated ear infections – recent studies have shown that taking away the adenoids will not open the Eustachian tube and reduce the occurrence of ear infections or fluid in the middle ear.
5. School absence – removing the tonsils will not improve attendance if your child misses school for vague reasons (including sore throats).
6. Sundry conditions – hay fever, asthma, febrile convulsions, bad breath and poor appetite will not improve with tonsil surgery.
Tonsillitis occurs when tonsils become infected and swell. Surgery is no longer the typical treatment for tonsillitis that it was years ago, owed to success with antibiotics. Regardless of how common or simple the procedure, surgery is often scary for both child and parent. The usual recovery after a tonsillectomy often entails a week or more of pain and soreness because of the exposure of the throat muscles after the tonsils are removed.
Try to look after your child's tonsil health, since a small number of tonsillectomies end in death, either from the anesthesia or from bleeding five to seven days after the operation. There is also a chance that a child with previously normal speech will develop a nasal-sounding voice. Children younger than five years may also be badly upset emotionally by the hospital experience.