Has Your Preschooler Had Their Tonsils Out?

Updated on July 31, 2009
S.L. asks from Mechanicsburg, PA
18 answers

I am unsure if I should go ahead with a tonsillectomy. My son turned 3 in June. The ENT who put tubes in his ears last year said his tonsils are a size 3 and needed to be removed, as well as the adenoids.

Back in March I noticed he was snoring and having a difficult time eating anything other than soft foods. He would take several swallow of water even to get the soft foods down. I would ask him if he had a sore throat and he would say no. He had one bad case of tonsillitis in March and he was snoring really bad with that. After the infection was gone he was able to swallow better, but he was still snoring. At this time he was also transitioning from sleeping with us to sleeping in his room in his new big boy bed because I was due in late April with our second son. He was waking several times at night.

In April when we went for a follow up with the ENT he recommended the surgery since at that time he was still snoring. We scheduled the surgery for Aug. 11th because the ENT wanted to wait until my son was a little older and Aug is the best time for my husband to take a few days off of work to help me with the recovery since I have my hands full with an infant.

In June the snoring stopped so we were unsure if we should still go through with it. Our pediatrician saw him in July and she advised waiting to see if he gets sick again in the winter and then do it. The asthma and allergy specialist we saw last week to said get a sleep study done first. The ENT explained that he almost never orders sleep studies with kids because if he snoring it is from tonsils.

We just saw the ENT this past week for the pre op and we questioned if he still needs the surgery. The ENT says he should still have them out because they are a size 3 and come winter with colds and flu they will be a problem again. Preschool starts in the fall so I don't want him to miss out for being sick a lot.

Any advice?

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So What Happened?

In August my son had the tonsils and adenoids removed. I waited to post what happened until we had made it through most of the cold and flu season. Compared to last year he has had way less runny noses and cough. So I guess it was worth it. Best of all he is now sleeping through the night! This didn't happen until about 2 months after the surgery, but he was adjusting to being in preschool for the first time as well.

I was not prepared for how miserable he would still be a week after the surgery. The hardest part was getting him to take the prescription liquid pain med, even with changing the flavors. I think it hurt to swallow. Looking back I think we should have not given it to him but instead only given tylenol which did seem to bother him to swallow.

Thanks for all the responses.

Featured Answers


answers from Pittsburgh on



answers from Allentown on

Hi S.,

Yes, have his T & A's out. Don't wait. You'll see a difference once he heals.

Don't be afraid. D.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My advice - do it!! My now 4 yr old had ear tubes at 2 and tonsils out at 3. My daughter had strep throat every month for 1 winter and she was snoring. Once a child has strep throat or tonsillitis, the tonsils remain enlarged even when not infected. This was a problem for my daughter…trouble eating and sleeping. If your son has problems now w/ the size of his tonsils it's only going to get worse over the years. I completely recommend having t&a's if needed - the ear tubes and t&a helped my daughter in so many ways! No more antibiotics, no more eating problems and the snoring stopped! It's more scary for us as parents then it will be for your son. We had both procedures at Dupont, which I completely recommend. They were amazing! The surgery is a little bit longer than the ear tubes and the recovery a little more painful. My daughter was sore the day of the surgery but by the next day she was eating normally - I mean everything!

Good Luck! Let's us know how everything goes!



answers from Pittsburgh on

My 8 year old is in the same boat, but unfortunately we have to wait until after September to get his out because of insurance reasons. I would just have to agree with your ENT. Think about how miserable your son was last year. Summer is the best time to get them out. The only other thing to do if you are unsure is to try another pediatric ENT. Did they do CT scan? A scope? They did these tests with my son as well as say they were enlarged to a 4.



answers from Harrisburg on

I am going to agree with what everyone else has said. My daughter had her tonsils and adnoids removed when she was 5. She bounced back in less than a week, we had to remind her to take it easy! Best of luck with your decision.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi S., My oldest had her tonsils and adnoids out when she was in 1st grade. I wish I had done it sooner! She never had tonsillitis or ear infections, but she snored, her nose was always stuffy, & she choked on food all the time! I finally asked the doctor about all those symptoms together and he ordered an xray. He took one look at the xray and sent us to an ENT. The ENT scheduled her surgery ASAP, he said she had the largest tonsils & adnoids he had ever seen in a child her age! Her relief & the results were immediate to see...in the recovery room while she slept! She has slept better, the choking stopped, she only got stuffy noses when she actually had a cold...it was amazing. My advice is to go for it! Just one bit of advice, use the pain meds as soon as you get home don't let your son tell you it hurts before you give it to him. It is easier with the pain meds they give you to keep the pain away than to get rid of it. Also make plenty of jello, and have popsicles & pudding on hand as well as non-fizzy drinks. It is really important that he not get dehydrated after the surgery. And make sure you & your son take the tour at the hospital before you go it really helps the kids. Keep a positive attitude and don't show fear our kids take their emotional cues from us! Best wishes.



answers from Philadelphia on

I did not respond earlier - mixed feelings. As a child I had severe tonsillitis - I was in second grade. Now, please understand I am 62... long time ago. They would not take the tonsils out because of the swelling. My throat is still my weak point but I have learned to watch for the signs of infection and stock up on vitamin c and teas and all the healthy things.

The tonsils and adenoids are major filters of germs entering the body. If they are infected that means they are doing their job! So what is causing the infection. Look to address the infection. And what can you do to build the child's immune system?

I just heard a radio show - Duke and the Doctor that talked about the effect of anesthesis on the brain of a young patient. It has been linked with learning disabilites and other learning problems. The younger the child and the number of time the child is put under for procedures are all variable for future problems. I did not copy down all of the information - I was working around the house and listening to the program. You can go on line to: dukeandthe doctor.com and listen to past broadcasts. It was in the early part of this week - July 27th - they archive their programs for 1 week - so please check and see what they had to say. www.dukeandthedoctor.com

Research - online - books - friends and ask questions. Doctors get paid by insurance companies for proceedures.
They are not well versed in nutrition and the way vitamins and good nutrition can change the health of children and adults.

You are in my prayers. Our children are precious to us and we need to be strong when it come to questioning doctors about their care.

If this was my grandchild - I would build the immune system with Life Start by Natren and lots of good fruits and vegetables - whatever they like. Lots of sunshine and fresh air and time with other children to expose them to other germs. Also find a good local health food store and find a good/great multivitamin for children.

My own little ones - now in their 30's were raised with home grown food. They had colds but no major health issues. My grandchildren are divided - one started out with ear issues, a change in schools helped that. Now under my care they are given the pro-biotic and lots of vegetables and fruits - and their treats - they are healthy and happy. Two other have had more health problems. I do not have care of them.




answers from Erie on

Hi S.,

My second son had his tonsils out when he was three. He was a big snorer also. He didn't sleep well and had a hard time waking up to use the bathroom, because when he finally reached that deep sleep, he couldn't wake up in time. They finally related that to a sleep apnea type condition because of his large tonsils and adnoids.
His surgery went very well,(as mom you're still allowed to worry!) We are very glad we had it done. He was completely night trained after. He seemed to be healthier after the surgery also.
They take very good care of the little ones. Just make sure that your little one eats lots of popsicles and juices to keep his throat moist. Mine didn't want to cooperate!

Good luck,




answers from Philadelphia on

Mu sister in law has a 3 year old son who just went through the surgery. He was snoring and after a while he couldn't breath well anymore. She was watching him at night to make sure that he breaths. The surgery went fast and he recovered pretty quick. She had to make sure that he doesn't cry so she had to do everything that he wanted. Now he is fine ( no more snorning or sleepless nights). I would say go ahead with the surgery. In winter, with the cold, he may have a hard time functioning. Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

Hello my son just had his out on the 19th of December and it was the best thing ever. He snored but also he would get the croup and when he got it his throat would almost close up and I had to rush him to the hospital and they gave him some medicine and than he would be ok. So maybe just check because it seems that his tonsils are pretty big. Since he has had them taken out we have not had any problems at all. So just think about it. My son had a sleep test and he quite breathing 4 times and woke up 129 times in one night so he was not getting any sleep at all. Does your son wake up and say mom"I just went to sleep why did you wake me up so fast". If so that means that he is not getting enough sleep because he is waking up alot at night. I also read that if they have problems with them that if you take them out that they could behave a lot better.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi S.....I have no clue to what you should do. Its a tough decision. I had my tonsils out when I was 4? I don't remember anything..I remember peeing the bed in the hospital and hiding underneath it because I was scared and holding my moms finger through the oxygen tent...ok...I had bronchitis too and obviously my memory is mixed! I look at my daughters throat and am amaed at tonsils. I never had them. I see hers and they look huge. But its normal. TO me, a clear throat with nothing blocking the way is normal. Good luck with your decision. I guess its beneficial in the long run, but watching it happen has to be horrible. AND just so you know...i still got strept throat, sore throats, snored...all the normal things even with out tonsils.



answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter had her t&a surgery when she was 2 1/2. She was snooring and had started with sleep apnea. Her tonsils were so enlarged they had adheared to her uvula(spelling?) and it was starting to affect her speech. She was never really sick and I found out about the enlarged tonsils quite by accident. She decided to put her head back in the shopping cart one day and started humming with her mouth open. I was stunded when I looked in there and saw how large they were. Once she recovered from the surgery ( very clingy for some time and did not want me to leave her in for awhile) her speech has greatly improved and she talks non stop now. Good luck.



answers from Harrisburg on


My daughter had her T&A out when she was 2-1/2 and I would do it again in a heartbeat. My daughter didn't have frequent strep or sore throat, but did have sleep apnea. It was terrifying to hear her stop breathing at night. She recovered from the surgery in a few days and gained a LOT of weight soon after. We hadn't realized that her light appetite was due to the fact that her tonsils were so enlarged that she had trouble eating. Yes...it was tough for a few days after the surgery, but it was in her best interest, and it was worth it.

Make sure the ENT is one you fully trust. We saw a pediatric ENT and he was WONDERFUL!!! Would recommend him to anyone. Because our daughter was so young, he scheduled surgery for her at a hospital where they had pediatric anesthesiologists and had her admitted overnight so they could monitor her. Normally it's an outpatient surgery, and I don't think either of us slept much that night in the hospital, but I stayed through the night with her and felt much better knowing the docs were there to keep an eye on her post-op.

Good luck. Let me know if you have any other questions.




answers from Philadelphia on

While I have no experience with this what so ever, I would suggest going forward with the surgery; since it sounds like he was "sick" enough to need the surgery up until about a month ago. Even tho you are thinking that the snoring stopped suddenly, with winter approaching and the colds/flu that are associated with it, I would bite the bullet and just get it done and over with. Like another mom said, he is young enough that he probably won't remember any pain/discomfort, and kids heal way faster than adults. Hopefully getting it done now with time to heal before cold/flu season, will make for a much easier and healthier winter. Good luck in your decision.



answers from Philadelphia on

just offering some support. We just found out this past week that my 5.5 yr old son needs his tonsils and adenoids out as well - snoring, sleep apnea, etc. So, surgery has been scheduled for 3 weeks from now. Our ENT said that he did not recommend a sleep study either - he was going off of what my hubby and I told him about our son's sleep habits/patterns. As nervous as I am, I'm relieved that they will come out and hopefully his sleep issues will be resolved. Everyone I've spoken to have nothing but wonderful things to say about the end result, which is comforting. Good luck to you.



answers from State College on


My daughter had hers out when she was 4. She didn't have any snoring or breathing problems but had strep 5 times in one season. They said I was still on the "borderline" to have them removed but we decided to do it. She's never had strep again. She's now 8. It's scary because it's surgery, but it saves a lot. She's a twin and I have another son so it was a blessing to not have the strep around. Actually, I don't think any of my kids have had it since then.



answers from Scranton on

S., as a registered nurse and mother of 3, please do NOT cancel the surgery. My son went through a lot before his T&A from allergies, snoring,sleep apnea(stopped breathing during sleep, bed wetting (was trained for 3 years). All of which stopped after his surgery. Your son can also experience behavior and concentration problems if let untreated from the lack of oxygen and lack of sleep. My pediatrician did not pick up that my son's symptoms were from his tonsils and adenoids-our ENT did. The ENT is the specialist, not any other doctor.
For the surgery, have lots of ice pops on hand-very soothing for his throat. One thing I recommend is the liquid pain medicine before bed and upon wakening give him ice pop then his medicine. This kept my son very comfortable and he recovered very quickly.
Once I knew my son's symptoms were from T&A,I watched my daughter. As soon as she started with snoring, hers were taken out. Her recovery was even quicker than my son's and I believe it was because we caught hers early and not 2 years after symptoms appeared. Please let us know what you decide and how your son is, :)



answers from York on

My oldest, who is now 10, had hers out at three. My middle had hers out at 6, last december, and my youngest (now three) will need his out probably in another year.

I think you should do it. There was never any scans, studies, or allergy dr's involved for us, our kids were AWFUL sleepers AND eaters.

3 was really hard, I won't lie. My daughter had no idea what was happening. All she knew was that she was in pain.

6 was easier because my middle child could be reasoned with, but harder because she was used to being able to get up and do things and not have to be in bed - she was harder to entertain.

I will say that within a few days of the surgery, both girls were different children. Because they were not sleeping before, they were irritable ALL OF THE TIME. Since the surgery, my 6 yo's grades have improved, her attitude is different, and she is an easy-peasy kid.

I think you should do it now. You will not regret it.

Feel free to contact me if you want some helpful advice, or if you have any questions. I would love to be there for you and your family - us Mammas gotta stick together!


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