Tonsils and Adenoids or Just Adenoids

Updated on March 15, 2010
D.M. asks from Littleton, CO
16 answers

My 3.5 year old daughter has been chronically stuffy for what seems like her whole life. She got tubes at 20 mos (after 11 ear infections), she's been tested for allergies (negative) and still breathes through her mouth at night, and is up often... I have an ENT appt scheduled in the next week or so. In the meantime wanted to ask you if you have experience w/ the tonsil & adenoid removal. Can you just remove the adenoids? Is recovery easier? Or while in there should I just have them both removed (if it comes to that). Thank you ... AGAIN!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much! After much thought we have decided to have the surgery for both. The ENT said she had size 3 tonsils that are very inflamed and red, and in his opinion will only get worse. And if it were his daughter (he has 5 kids!) he would have the removed now. There are too many folks out there who wished they had done it sooner. She will heal faster and easier now. Although we hate to put her through surgery, it's best. Thanks for helping make this decision!

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answers from Houston on

My son first had ear tubes put in at 9 months old and again this past December. In December the doctor removed his adenoids at the same time since they can be the cause of infection as well. I researched having his tonsils taken out at the same time and got a 2nd opionion also (Both ENTs). Both doctors told us they don't remove the tonsils unless they have to. It is much harder on the baby as well and recovery takes a good bit longer. Tonsils are there for a reason. They help catch bacteria and other germs to keep you from getting sick. Sometimes they get overloaded and get infected as well. My son did well with having his adenoids taken out---he was 26 months at the time. I will warn you that she will have horrible breath for about 2 weeks. It is normal. Good luck!

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answers from Colorado Springs on

My son who is now 6 was only 3 when he had both is tonsils and adnoids removed he had chronic ear infections and stuffy he drooled alot and he snored from the day he was born he went in to have his tonsils removed cause he had strep a lot and the docotr removed his adnoids too she said that both were larger then an infected adults, recovery was easy my son was back to normal really fast and he loved eating popsicles and ice cream the rest of the day after his surgery. with your daighters age i would say having them both out wont be too bad at all it only took a day for my son to be back to himself if you want a really good ent her name is Dr. Poznanovic she is in colorado springs and very good with kids my son hates all doctors but loves going to see her

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answers from Milwaukee on

yes you can have just the adenoid removed. my son had ear infections and was a mouth breather...we had jsut the adenoids removed and he has been just fine since!!!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

My son was the same way always stuffy. Dr took an x Ray and his adenoids were 4 times the normal size. He had the worse time breathing right after surgery HUGE diffrence!!! He sleeps so much better. You can get the adenoids removed by the self if that is the only problem. Recovery is easy back to normal within a day or so my son was up and feeling better after a half of a day. Surgery only takes about 30 mins from start to finish. That is time to put them under and everything! If you want more information feel free and email me. [email protected] son had surgery feb 19th of this year.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Yes, you can just remove the adenoids, and yes recovery is much easier (or so I've heard - tonsils are the painful part). The doctor should be able to tell if her tonsils are enlarged and need removal, whereas they cannot visibly see if her adenoids are. From what you have told me though, her symptoms would suggest they are. DS is 8 and we had his removed in December - tubes were put in at the same time. We have been very happy with our decision, and wish we'd done it years ago, but just had never had anyone recommend it.

Oh, and for recovery - DS was out snow skiing the next day, and never complained about a thing except when he vomited after surgery :(. We did wait the 24 hours the doctor recommended before letting him engage in energetic activities (okay, maybe only 22 hours ;).



answers from Denver on

Yes you can just get the adnoids out. A cowokers son has only his taken out at age 3



answers from Denver on

My son had tubes put in and adenoids out at 3 (due to hearing loss and multiple ear infections). It was all outpatient surgery. If I'm remembering correctly, he was up and about the very next day. I know that we were giving him some meds at home, but I can't remember what.

Good Luck with your decision.



answers from Denver on


My son had chronic fluid in his ears ("glue ear") and chronic stuffiness, green drippy nose for months. He was snoring and could only breath through his mouth. Nurses/doctors at pediatrician's office kept assuming he had cold after cold but that just didn't feel right to me. We finally visited an ENT and they did a scope .....revealed that he had enlarged adenoids. The enlarged adenoids were imparing his breathing (he was 50% blocked), preventing the fluid from draining in his ears, and were chronically infected (thus the never ending green nose). The ENT (Dr. Yoon at Children's in Denver) recommended tubes and removal of the adenoids. Long story short, it was the best decision ever. His improvement was instant and dramatic....and lasting. He had the surgery at 17 months and has rarely been sick since then...he just turned 4.

Your ENT will help you with the decision regarding tonsils and or adenoids. It is my understanding that removing the tonsils is a more difficult/painful surgery than just removing the adenoids. The ENT did not recommend removal of the tonsils for my son....I don't think they do that as often as they used to now that they are removing the adenoids. I am sure your ENT will do a scope, but if not, you may want to consider having that done before making your decision....that would give you some helpful diagnostic information. Even at 17 months, my son sat still and didn't flinch during the's a quick procedure and your child is awake.

Our experience with the adenoidectomy was pretty good. My son was crabby for a few days....maybe 4 or 5 and I believe he was in some pain.... but it seemed manageable with Ibuprofen and after a few days he was back to himself. I wouldn't say it was any worse than having a kid with a bad cold. It was not fun to see him uncomfortable but it really was a relatively smooth recovery.

Again, I can't speak for the tonsil surgery, but with the adenoidectomy, your daughter will need some extra rest and cuddling, soft foods/shakes, and possibly some extra attention at night if she is uncomfortable after the surgery.... but that's about it.

I can't tell you enough about how glad I am that we did the adenoidectomy (and tubes) son was a different kid.

Good luck and I hope your ENT visit goes well.



answers from Cheyenne on

Do both now if she needs them! I only had my adenoids out when I was 4 to help with chronic sinusitis and snoring and my dad doesn't feel like it did much of anything to help. Now at 27 I am having lots of problems with my tonsils and wish that they would have done both when I was 4 and it was easier to heal faster! Not looking forward to surgery if I end up needing it! Ugh!



answers from Savannah on

My daughter had tubes at 18 months and then had to get her tonsils and adnoids out when she was almost 4. The doctor said he could just do tonsils but recommended adnoids. I'd ask the ENT...he/she will probably suggest just taking them both out at the same time.

As for recovery...the first day was not bad at all. She was good about drinking and was enjoying posicles and ice cream. The second day she was a bit crabbier. By the third day she was a tyrant. I have heard this is pretty much the course of recovery for all little kids (my sisters girls had this same recovery and 4 of my friends). I guess by then the incisions are scabbing over and it becomes a little painful. I continued to force fluids. Which of course was hard to do but it was better than winding up in ER for dehydration. Once we pushed thru the 3rd and 4th the 5th she asked for french fries and ate them all! So if she has the surgery..just be prepared that the first couple days are a piece of cake and then she'll be mean. lol.
We got pediapops, gatorade, soft ice cream, yogurt, and pediasure or ensure (so she could have calories). My daughter is not a picky eater at all so we were lucky that we could get her to take this stuff. But the ENT said the main focus was hydration so to force fluids first---but if we could get her to eat then great.
Good luck!!! Oh and the process was about as long as ear tubes. Maybe a little longer. I'd say she was in and done within an hour.


answers from Norfolk on

My son had huge tonsils just before he turned 4. His were so large they looked like huge fleshy marbles at the back of his mouth. They could almost touch each other from opposite sides of his throat, and he could practically chew on them. He snored something awful and he had a hard time eating and swallowing. He never had a temperature over this and they were not infected. He'd only had one or two ear infections. We went to an ENT and we tried 2 weeks of steroids to reduce the swelling, and it worked until he was off the steroids, then they swelled right back up again. We just couldn't go on like this. As soon as he turned 4, we had both his tonsils and adenoids out. It was an out patient procedure at the hospital and we brought him home the same day. He took 2 weeks to heal up (most kids heal up in 1 week, but I babied him a lot), and then he was absolutely fine. His pre-school sent him a cute hand made get well soon card that everyone signed. The snoring was gone, he could sleep and eat and drink and swallow with no problems. His 4th year was the first year he had a 4 inch growing spurt. We've never regretted having them taken out.



answers from Salt Lake City on

My son had sleep apnea when he was small. When he was 2 he only weighed 18 pounds. He struggled breathing especially at night. HE would often wake up gasping for breath. We decided to get both his tonsils and adnoids removed so he could breathe better. The Doctor told us he had had many tonsilitis attacks, but since my son couldn't communicate with us, we didn't know. The procedure made a world of difference. He is now 16 and is very healthy, although still small.


answers from Fort Collins on

I can relate to the chronic stuffy nose. My daughter is 10 mos. and has been stuffy since birth it seems. She has never had an ear infection but is always have a hard time breathing through her nose. Her doctor doesn't seem to be that concerned (which is really irritating me) and thinks that she should just grow out of it! The last time we were there for her well child check she did say that her tonsils looked somewhat enlarged but still wasn't all that concerned. I am thinking of getting a second opinion or scheduling her with an ENT. So at this point to don't really have much advice to give you but I just wanted to write you and say I share in the frustration. I really hope you find a cure cause I know that it can't be easy for the child to deal with. Good Luck!



answers from Missoula on

Do both. My sister had adenoids removed as a child, and they left the tonsils. Guess what? 25 years later, turns out it's a lot harder to get tonsils out. She absolutely should have had both out as a kid, but peds were overly reluctant to do so back in the 80's. Good luck with the decision making.



answers from Denver on

Coming from a woman who finally after years and years of throat infections, snoring, etc, got her tonsils and anoids removed at 25 years of age. It was an awful procedure mostly because of my age and size. I so wish I could have had the procedure done when I was a child. Those years of going through what I did could have been avoided if I would have had the procedure done so much earlier. Best of luck to you on your decision. I wish you and your daughter all the best!



answers from Boise on

Around here if they take the adenoids they take the tonsils but if they take the tonsils they don't take the adenoids. If they do take the tonsils then a very soothing drink is warm jello. Take warm water and put a tablespoon per every 4 oz in the warm water and mix it up and have your daughter drink it. It will coat the back of her throat and make things easier to swallow. I had to have my tonsils out emergency when I was a teenager and it took me about 2 weeks to get back to eating sharp foods. I had a lot of warm jello and soft foods like soups, rice and mashed potatoes.

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