Tonsils aid the body in recognizing germs inside the mouth. This collection of lymph nodes are located on each side of the back of the throat, acting as one of the body’s defense mechanisms. They become inflamed or infected when they “collect” abnormal germs, causing Tonsillitis.
The bacteria that usually causes Tonsillitis is sometimes due to Streptococcus A (Group A Strep Throat). Strep Throat is an infection of the tissues inside the throat by Streptococcus bacteria, usually causing pain, discomfort, fever, and difficulty swallowing.
Interestingly enough, one of the results of having a bacterial infection with the tonsils or throat can also lead to ear infections. Ear infections are caused by bacteria in the middle ear, creating swelling or congestion of the nasal passages, Eustachian tubes, or the throat where fluid is trapped.
How are these three ailments related?
Sinus cavities and passages are all connected and work together. For instance, the Eustachian tubes connect each middle ear to the back of the throat behind the nasal passages. The tubes connecting to the throat will open and close to refresh air in the ear, drain secretions, and regulate air pressure. In children, these tubes are much more narrow and horizontal, making them more difficult to drain and easier to get clogged.
Tonsillitis, strep, and ear infections can interfere with the body’s ability to recognize abnormal germs, so it is important to recognize recurring instances. You child’s doctor may recommend a Tonsillectomy to remove tonsils or Ear Tubes to help drain infection or fluids from the middle ear.
Should my child have a Tonsillectomy?
Removing tonsils can help your child avoid Strep and other issues, such as snoring or sleep apnea or further irritation of the passages. Has your child experienced any of the following symptoms or conditions?
- Frequent tonsil infections? (ranges from 5-8 per year, or recurring 2 – 3 times on a yearly basis for 2+ years).
- Recurring throat infections or Strep. (more than 7 times in one year or 5 times on a yearly basis for 2+ years).
- Tonsil enlargement
- Difficulty swallowing or eating
- Snoring or Sleep Apnea (swollen tonsils can cause blockages or obstructions in the airway).
During a tonsillectomy, your child will be put under general anesthesia by a Pediatric anesthesiologist who is highly trained and experienced to tailor anesthesia for children. The procedure is very simple, where a Pediatric otolaryngologist removes the tonsils using a special tool that uses heat or sound waves to remove tissues and minimizes bleeding. Recovery time is usually a few days.
Should my child have tubes put in their ears?
If your child has a history of recurring ear infections and blockages in the ear canals, they are at a much higher risk for hearing loss. Ear tube insertion is a minimally invasive procedure to place tubes in each ear to allow fluids to drain and to open the passages. It will help reduce recurring infections and further damage. Usually, the tubes fall out within 12-18 months on their own.
When speaking to one of our Pediatric ENT Specialists, we’ll take a look at your child’s medical history, perform a thorough examination, and then determine the next steps. Your child’s well-being and care is our highest concern. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today: (770) 237-3000.