From Our 2012 Archives

Summertime Is Tonsillectomy Time

FRIDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- Summer may seem like paradise for many kids, but sometimes their health can put a crimp in the fun: Summer can be the perfect season to get a tonsillectomy.

"Kids need from 10 days to two weeks recovery time, so summer offers an ideal opportunity to get tonsil removal out of the way without interfering with school or winter holidays," Dr. Laura Cozzi, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Maywood, Ill., said in a Loyola University Health System news release.

"Improving breathing, eliminating snoring and reducing colds and ear infections are usually the reasons for having tonsils removed -- usually nothing life threatening or urgent -- so the surgery can be arranged when it is most convenient," Cozzi added.

If your child is one of the estimated 500,000 who will get a tonsillectomy this year, what should you know? Here are some tips, courtesy of Cozzi:

  • Snoring and disrupted sleep could be a sign that your child -- or even yourself, as an adult -- needs a tonsillectomy. "This lack of healthful sleep can cause irritability, poor performance in school and even in very rare cases, developmental delays," she said.
  • A child's age is an important factor, with many surgeries being performed between ages 3 and 7. "Tonsils usually shrink between the ages of 7 and 8. If they don't, many parents of these school-age children want them removed to prevent existing or recurring health problems," Cozzi said.
  • The surgery is now an outpatient procedure. "Many parents remember staying in a hospital overnight as children after having tonsils removed but, today, the surgery takes about one hour and children go home to continue their recovery, which is less traumatic and preferred by parents and young patients," Cozzi explained.
  • Symptoms that could spell tonsil trouble include: regularly breathing through the mouth; loud snoring and awakenings during sleep; repeated ear infections or sore throat; persistent runny nose or cough; white spots on the tonsils or foul odor and enlarged tonsils.
  • Though parents may promise their kids they can have lots of ice cream after surgery, liquids are more important to avoid dehydration, Cozzi pointed out. "But my patients like the idea that they can watch TV, play video games and surf the net more than usual, during their recovery," she added.

-- Randy Dotinga

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SOURCE: Loyola University Health System, news release, June 25, 2012