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Despite tonsillectomy being the second most common childhood surgery, a survey of American parents shows that 8 out of 10 are unaware that enlarged tonsils play a role in serious childhood health problems, including breathing difficulties, slow growth, obesity and even hyperactive behavior.  More than 80 percent of parents also did not know that a tonsillectomy is the most effective treatment for sleep disordered breathing.

Tonsils are ball-like areas of soft tissue on both sides of the throat.  Along with adenoids (soft tissue behind the nose) tonsils help the body fight infection by filtering out germs that enter the body through the mouth and nose.  Newer technology options can make the procedure less painful, and the recovery quicker than ever before.

Tonsillectomy Misconceptions

A survey of parents uncovered misconceptions about tonsillectomy.

Doctors don’t remove tonsils anymore.  Approximately 600,000 tonsillectomies are performed each year for children and adults.  According the American Academy of Otolaryngology, it is the second most common childhood surgery.

Tonsils are mainly removed for sore throats and tonsillitis.  75% of tonsillectomies are performed to treat obstructive sleep disorders.  Obstruction means the tonsils are so large that they are blocking part of the breathing airway or the throat.  Symptoms of obstructions include: snoring, loud breathing, difficulty swallowing, mouth breathing, and frequent gasping or snorting noises.

Sleep disordered breathing is a condition in which people do not breathe properly while sleeping.  Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that causes a blockage in the airway during sleep, so that breathing stops.  OSA is usually chronic, causing breathing to stop several times during the night.  If left untreated, sleep-disordered breathing problems, such as pediatric OSA, could lead to much more serious health issues such as:  poor growth, bedwetting at night, sleep deprivation, and psychological, behavioral, or emotional problems.  Studies have shown that after undergoing a tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy for obstructive symptoms, many of these problems resolved.

The survey also confirmed that more than 90% of parents would prefer a quicker, less painful recovery for their child if they must undergo a tonsillectomy.  For more information about tonsils and tonsillectomies, call Avera Medical Group ENT Yankton at 665-6820.

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