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When is it recommended for children to have their tonsils or adenoids removed?

Tonsils, located in the back of the throat, and adenoids, positioned in the back of the nasal passage near the opening to the middle ear, are lymph tissues that help to fight infection. Tonsillectomy is recommended for patients with obstructive problems, including snoring, sleep apnea, and trouble swallowing, who are at risk for airway blockage. Patients with recurrent infections are also candidates.

Current recommendations for tonsillectomy in patients who have recurrent tonsillitis are for patients to have had tonsillitis seven times in one year, five times each year in the last two years, or three times each year in the last three years.  Most tonsillectomy patients have reached at least three or four years of age.

Enlarged adenoids can lead to frequent ear infections; they can block the opening to the middle ear and lead to fluid buildup. Sometimes children with frequent ear infections will also have problems with their tonsils and adenoids. In these cases removal of both the adenoids and tonsils is often recommended.

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