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Tonsil Infections May Need Tonsillectomy

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

According to our pediatrician, our daughter may need a tonsillectomy. Will this cure her frequent sore throats? I have never had a tonsillectomy. Would my daughter be better off getting hers out or outgrowing her sore throats like I did?


Surgery really necessary?

Dear Surgery really necessary,

Tonsils are lymph nodes in the upper back of the throat that help protect against infection in the body by filtering out bacteria. However, if the tonsils are large, children may have frequent sore throats, problems breathing, or ear infections.


When the infection is severe, the tonsils become swollen and inflamed (tonsillitis). Tonsillitis is usually treated with antibiotics if caused by a bacterial infection. For viral infections, antibiotics are not prescribed, and the tonsillitis must run its course with plenty of rest and fluids.


Tonsillectomy or removal of tonsils is one of the most common surgeries performed on children. Tonsillectomy is recommended if:

1. Frequent tonsillitis: 7 in one year or 5 per year over two years.

2. Enlarged tonsils interfere with breathing.

3. Abscess forms on the tonsils.

The procedure is normally done on an outpatient basis by an ear, nose, and throat surgeon. Your child will have some throat pain following surgery and the doctor may prescribe pain medication. In addition, ice chips, popsicles, and ice cream help relieve some pain. Soft foods and cold fluids are recommended during recovery, which can take about two weeks.

Your child may still get sore throats, but not as many as before the tonsillectomy.

Discuss your concerns with her pediatrician, and ask as many questions as you like. If you are still not sure about the tonsillectomy, then seek a second opinion from another physician.