A tonsillectomy – or the removal of the tonsils and often the adenoids as well – is one of the most common childhood surgeries performed.
In fact, more than half a million tonsillectomies are performed each year on children in the United States, making it the second most common surgery among young children just behind procedures to place tubes in the ears to relieve recurrent ear infections.
However, due to a growing understanding of the role tonsils and adenoids play in filtering out bacteria and helping to fight infection, today a tonsillectomy isn’t always the first course of treatment for infections.
So how can a parent know when the procedure may be right for their child?
Thanks to recent guidelines by the American Academy of Otolaryngology for head and neck surgery, doctors and parents now have more information about when tonsillectomy may be warranted in young patients. The guidelines suggest that doctors could consider taking out the tonsils if a child had at least three cases of swollen and infected tonsils in a year.
Whatever the case, parents should feel comfortable in discussing their concerns and their child’s symptoms and illnesses with their pediatrician.