Tonsils To Go or Not to Go?

Health |

A generation ago, “having your tonsils out” was almost a rite of passage. Parents expected it. Children’s fears were calmed with the promise of getting “all the ice cream you want.”

At that time, doctors routinely removed children’s tonsils to prevent tonsillitis, an infectious condition marked by fever, sore throat and swollen, painful tonsils.

More recently, doctors have realized that children often outgrow the tendency to get these infections. Also, the use of antibiotics for acute tonsillitis has reduced the need for tonsillectomy. (Adults can get tonsillitis, too.)

Furthermore, as it turns out, tonsils are not simply a nuisance. Researchers have found that tonsils — those little pink masses of lymphoid tissue at the back of your throat — actually play an active role in fighting off respiratory infections, especially in young children.

Removing the tonsils is unwarranted unless children have repeated tonsil infections that cause them to miss weeks of school.