9 answers

Swollen Tonsils in 2 1/2 Year Old with No Other Symptoms.

My son has had swollen tonsils and lymph nodes for about a month now. We have been to the pedi 3 times now. The first time they said everything was fine and they would just go back down. The second time he was positive for strep and treated with antibiotics. The 3rd time they said he was getting better! He's not! The thing is he has NO OTHER symptoms besides not wanting to eat as much. He hasn't had any fever and he is still very active. He has lost about 4 lbs already and today I made an appt with an ENT spec. I guess my question is have you ever had or heard of this problem and what in the world could it be? I have read lots of articles on tonsillitis and such but they all say there is fever etc.... I dont understand why his pedi cant tell me what is causing this! Thanks for all your input! :)

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My son has had a super swollen tonsil (yes just one) for over a year now. Per our Ped. children's tonsils don't mature until around the age of 4 and if children don't have consistant tonsilitis or strep thoat then there is nothing to worry about. It might be more of an allergy thing then a true tonsil issue. We give our son local honey and saline nasal spray to help with this problem.

You are doing the right thing by bringing him to an ENT. My now 11 year old had her tonsils/adenoids removed when she was 7, after constant illnesses manifesting in her tonsils. Yet her pedi kept dismissing it, because it wasn't always the same illness causing the problem -- maybe half the time it was strep but other than that it was classified as a "virus". So I finally insisted on a reference to an ENT and it was the smartest thing we did!

She always had large tonsils but didn't initially have problems until she got a little older. Sounds like your son is starting earlier, though, so it's a good think you are taking the initiative by bringing him to an ENT -- I think I waited too long and caused my daughter unnecessary suffering by allowing her pedi to continually dismiss my concerns. And regarding symptoms . . . every child is different. My daughter ran awful fevers (almost 105!), yet my oldest child hardly ever runs a fever no matter what illness she gets. So don't let that fool you!

Good luck!

My 3rd daughters tonsils were so swollen that she needed to have them removed. She never had tonsilitis. But the doctor explained that the tonsils were harboring bacteria behind them that was turning into upper respitory problems. She had chronic ear infections and she snored like a 60 year old man. Her life was much better once those tonsils were gone. Definitely see that ENT. Her pediatricians never did anything and I kept changing because I was so unhappy with them. I finally took her to the ENT myself and had already decided they needed to come out based on articles I had read.

Hi A.,

My 4 year old son is now having the same problem. His tonsils are enlarged with no other symptoms... for no clear reason, and he has no appetitie for food. However, after consulting with several doctors, and from my own research, It seems that this is a very common problem. It becomes an issue when it interferes with his sleep.

What brought our attention to the probelm was when he started snoring like an old man while sleeping. Sometimes it seems to me like he's stuggling to breath. Three doctors so far have recommended surgery to remove the tonsils as well as the adenoids. Now i'm conviced we should do it. If it helps him get some quality sleep and eat better... both very key to his development... I think it's worth it.

Good luck.

When my son was 3 1/2 his tonsils swelled up till they almost touched eachother at the back of his mouth. He had no fever, no ear infections. They were making him snore badly when he slept and he had a hard time swallowing. We went to an ENT and we tried steroids to shrink them. It worked, but as soon as we finished the steroids they swelled right back up again. Soon as he turned 4, we had his tonsils and adenoids out. He healed up quickly. We were so happy to have it over with, and he could sleep and eat just fine.

I would certainly follow-up with the ENT.

If I were the parent, I would be looking for things such as tenderness (do the nodes hurt when touched/squeezed?), are they squishy or hard (this is tough because we're not medically trained to know the difference), do they easily move around?

Those are all signs of healthy lymph node swelling. Nodes are meant to collect and deal with infection and can take a while to go back to a normal size (1-2 cm).

As a lymphoma survivor (Hodgkins), I, unfortunately, know a little more about lymph nodes than the average person. But, I'd make sure to follow your Mommy instincts, and if they're saying to press on, press and don't look back.

Also, if they offer a fine needle biopsy (aspiration), request a lymph node biopsy. Aspirations are often pathologically inconclusive and will require the biopsy anyhow.

Good luck! Hopefully, he's just dealing with a virus that's taking a little more time for his body to process.

Do yourself a favor and stay off the internet for "lymph node" searches unless you're viewing sites such as WebMD, MayoClinic, etc. You'll scare yourself into thinking everything awful is going on.

Here are some good resources for you:


Does your son have allergies? My youngest's tonsils were swollen, and the pedi said sometimes allergies cause that to happen in young children. His brother also has allergies, but he's never had swollen tonsils. Definitely follow-up with the ENT appointment. Is your pedi not concerned and not making efforts to find out the problem? Or did the dr just say they aren't sure and gave you a referral? Pediatricians are generalists, so they don't know all the answers. Which is why they refer to specialists, like ENTs. When a pedi refers you, it means they think there may be a problem and are concerned, but they don't have the specialized training and want to make sure your child is properly diagnosed. I would be concerned if the pedi didn't give you a referral and just told you to keep watching the symptoms.

Your story sounds almost identical to mine. My 2 1/2 year old went through 5 rounds of antibiotics because of his tonsils. He never had any other symptoms other than just that. After getting frustrated with his Pedi, I found an ENT on my own (Dr. Mark Palmer - who is fantastic). He said immediately that his tonsils and adenoids needed to come out. He said that he probably had strep at some point and it damaged his tonsils to a point that they could not return to normal size. He also said it's very possible to test positive for strep (in the fast test) and not actually have the live bacteria, which is what makes you sick. You are doing the right thing by going to an ENT, and I hope you find another Pedi, as I did.

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