Tonsils and Adnoids

Updated on January 28, 2008
S.D. asks from Portland, OR
30 answers

It was recommended by my Dr. (and the ENT that she referred me to) that my 2 yr old son have his tonsils and adnoids removed. This was last summer. He is now 2 (the age appropriate to have the surgery) and I am torn. I have spent several months working with an amazing ND trying alternatives but nothing has made a difference. He has never been able to sleep through the night. He wakes 3-4 times screaming...like he is startled...he is easy to calm down but I am just tired of getting up all night! I have tried every method from crying it out to earlier/later bed times. I am not a first time mom, my daughter was sleeping through the night at 4 weeks. My question is this...has anyone N O T found that their child slept better after having this surgery??? The ENT said that this may not be the cure for the sleeping but I should still think about having the surgery for his overall health - learning, speaking etc. He has other breathing issues, ie: he had RSV at 3 months and with colds he has weezing. Any and all responses are welcome, it seems everyone has good results from having this surgery.
Thanks, a tired zombie mom
ps: just read the other T&A request...still want to know has anyone not found good results on the sleep after having the T&A???

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J.M.

answers from Portland on

Sorry to tell you, My neice had her t&a out when she was in 1st or second grade. Her sleep improved. Her hearing improved. Her grades improved. My sis was glad she insisted to the doctor that something was wrong in order to get the referral to see the specialist.

jem

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P.D.

answers from Portland on

Have you seen an allergist, my son didn't sleep through the night until about three. He had food allerys and would wake up coughing several times a night, once he started his allery treatment it got a lot better.

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T.C.

answers from Portland on

While my children still have their tonsils and adenoids, I can say that having my own tonsils taken out at age 19 really helped me! My tonsils were big and they made breathing difficult and I was always sick before (strep throat 13 times in 1 year). Since I've been tonsil-free, I've never had strep throat and I catch only an average number of colds (2-3 per year). If a trusted doctor told me my child needed a tonsilectomy, I would seriously consider it.
T. C.

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S.E.

answers from Seattle on

Plllleeeeaaase try chiropractic before surgery! My son had chronic ear infections and the doctors talked of removing his adenoids and tonsils........He also never slept through the night. I took him to the chiropractor and he has not had an ear infection since. He began sleeping through the night immediately. Poor thing, his neck was out of alignment and that was it! There are great chiropractors out there who work on newborns and children of all ages!

1 mom found this helpful
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A.N.

answers from Eugene on

Hi S.~
My name is A. and I am a stay at home mom of 3 boys. My oldest had his t&a surgery at 6, we still have sleep issues but not as scary and his breathing is better. He is also ADHD and the medication he is on makes getting to sleep an issue but not staying asleep, Thank God! It sounds to me like he may have sleep apnea and that can be very scary. We also tested my youngest(3) at 2 for that. My second and third kids have tubes in their ears, all have allergies and sensitivities to food.
Good luck and feel free to email me if you want to talk.
~A. N. ([email protected]____.com)

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S.R.

answers from Seattle on

Hi - we had our son's tonsils and adenoids removed last year (at 3.5 yrs). While he breathes much better at night now (no more apnea breathing or choking sounds) he still wakes up at least once a night and is a very light sleeper. So, didn't solve all sleep issues, but sure did cut the main one out - the apnea, which can create life-long problems.

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J.S.

answers from Seattle on

All I have to say is DO IT!
My youngest of 5 is 3, she had the surgery 2 weeks after her 3rd birthday. It has been such a blessing, she sleeps through the night, she's not easily startled. She is a happier child by day, and by night she's no longer afraid to go to bed alone. Before the surgery everyone thought she had asma, her wheezing could be heard from across the room. she had terrible sleep apnea where sometimes she'd not take another breath for 30sec., then wake up startled or gasping for air. I sleep much better knowing that she is well now. the first two weeks after surgery your child will sleep/breath a little garbled but it is that way because of swelling. you will notice right away how well your baby sleeps though.

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A.L.

answers from Seattle on

I can't help you with the surgery question, but before you do surgery, you might want to talk to Dr. Darley - she's a naturopathic sleep expert. There may be something else going on that your ND is missing! Unless, of course, your ND is Dr. Darley! http://www.naturalsleepmedicine.net/

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S.B.

answers from Seattle on

My daughter had her adnoids removed and ear tubes put in (no tonsil remooval) when when she was 1 1/2 and I was so nervous about it since it is surgery and everything, but it was the best decision we ever made. If your doctor is recommending the surgery, I would do it. I have heard of children sleeping better after the surgery you're describing, but don't know for sure. What I do know is that surgery for children is not usually recommended unless the benefits outweigh the risks. My doctor said my daughter's voice might change a little after her adnoids were removed, but it never changed at all and she hasn't had anything negative come from the surgery at all. My guess is that your child will sleep much better if he has the surgery. Good luck!

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C.G.

answers from Seattle on

Hi S., I have two daughter who are now both in their teen years. But when they were toddlers each of them had simular problems of what you describe. My oldest daughter has eustachian tube disfunctions, which means she is unable to equalize the presure in her inner ear. She had several surgeries as a toddler that include removing her adnoids and tonsils due to enlargement. We found this to help with her speech, ability of breath nasally and breath better at night because the obstruction was eliminated. My other daughter has perfect ears, nose and throat. But is a night waker since birth. She has never needed much sleep, therefore has difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. All though infancy and childhood we were up nightly with her. The key was teaching her technique of putting herself back to sleep ie reading, relaxing, meditation, etc. Therefore, T&A removal might help if the disruption in sleep is caused by an inability to breath but if disruption in sleep is due to circadian rhythm you might not see a difference in sleeping patterns.

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D.H.

answers from Portland on

I have not had personal experience, but I can only reinforce what you've heard, through a friend's experience. Her daughter had sleep apnea episodes 15-20 times a night, constant congestion, and was developing speech problems due to hearing issues, all related to the adenoids. My friend was like you -- researched all of the alternatives, especially on the naturopathic front, and was very reticent to do the surgery but finally relented (adenoids only) after her daughter was 3, and all issues are much improved, and daughter has not had any bad results or resulting issues.

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C.S.

answers from Portland on

My son had them out at 1 year and he has been so much better. Just be prepared to spend a little time at the hospital afterwards. Sometimes they come home wihtin hours othertimes they need to stay overnight or two for observation.
It is scary and hard to do but it was the best thing we did for my son.
Good Luck
C.

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K.E.

answers from Corvallis on

My son had his tonsils and adnoids out when he was 7. He had been having cronic sinus infections for over a year. The doctor would put him on steriods for the infection and within 3 weeks of it getting better it would be back. The adnoids were prohibiting the sinuses from draining the infection completely. When the infection were really bad I used to sit up at night and listen to him snore (horribly) and occassionaly he would stop breathing and then gasp for air. Finally, we went to a ENT Dr. who recommended the T&A, I too was torn, and when we went to the hospital for the surgery I felt like the worst Mom in the world for doing this to him (I cried after they took him away). He was a trooper, we had told him he wouldn't be sick anymore after this and I think he was looking forward to that. Let me tell you, it was the BEST thing in the world for him, no more infections and he has never snored or had breathing problems since. I did sit up at night for a few weeks afterward because now I couldn't hear him at all! It is a tough decision but I believe it was a life saver for us. Good Luck! K. E

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R.G.

answers from Anchorage on

S.,
Have you had him tested for food allergies or asthma? I know that sometimes children have allergies and that can cause the irritability at night.
I know that my sister had many food allergies and respiratory ailments throughout childhood and it wasn't until she was older (10years) that she had them removed.
I found this site from the American Academy Otolarngology (head and neck surgery) fact sheet that can help with some of the myths about tonsillectomies.
Check it out: http://www.entusa.com/pdf_downloads/TOP%205%20MYTHS%20OF%...

or you can visit: www.tonsilfacts.org
Hope this helps.
R.

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D.K.

answers from Seattle on

Hi S.,

I had my tonsils and adnoids removed when I was 9. Up until then I had been chronically ill -- sore throts, strep throat, allegery issues - ALL of it cleared up after the procedure -- I got tubes in my ears too -- all in one shot. Now that I am a mom I can imagine your angst --- Perhaps you would feel better if you got a second opinion from another ENT? It sounds like you have done a lot of work to see if there is an alternative....On the sleep issue, has he always been like that? My lil guy was NOT a sleeper after a daughter who could do marathon 17 hours....and around the age your son is kids can start to have some scary nightmares - it is all exhausting isn't it? Good luck!

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R.B.

answers from Eugene on

hi, my son at age 4 had his T&A taken out, and he was going through the snoring and sleep aphnea that you seem to talk about, he is sleeping better but the surgery was a hard one, it is much better to do the surgery at a younger age like 2. I am a veteran of surgeries ... my other son (2) has had several including open heart at 7weeks. And I would say the four year old T&A was the hardest ... even at age 2 the recovery was so mcuh better. Good Luck. mother of three boys.

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A.O.

answers from Portland on

Enlarged adenoids can contribute to sleep apnea. If the adenoids are blocking his airway during sleep, it may cause him to snore or have irregular breathing patterns, which could reduce oxygen levels. His waking up and screaming may be related to the breathing pattern. My daughter had obstructive sleep apnea from enlarged adenoids and had surgery. Her sleep patterns improved after she had surgery.

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D.D.

answers from Portland on

IN the peds nursing profession myself and with a child who also had very severe t&A situation, I truly support the surgery!!! You will notice a big difference in behaviors and although it may take a while for the sleep pattern to reset itself..habits develop.. I believe you will see changes. Sleep apnea in not good for anyone and it does not usually resolve enough over time to benefit not doing it. My son did great. Sleep patterns can be re-set with patience,but trips to the ER for airway issues are alot more uncontrolled and scary.

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D.J.

answers from Portland on

I had my T&A surgery done when I was 5. I hardly ever got sore throughts after that. That is all I really remember from it, I don't think it helped me sleep better? I think if you are going to do it though, do it while your kids are young and won't really remember! My friend who is 26 had it done, and trust me, it took her forever to heal. Children bounce back alot quicker than adults. I think it would be worth it to go fourth with the surgery.

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M.S.

answers from Portland on

Personally, I have not had this issue, but two friends that have had success with the surgery. One boy who will be 6 in July recently had his and now does not need to wear a pullup at night and sleeps all the way thru. Until the surgery, he would have nightly accidents and crawl into bed with mom and dad every single night. They are very happy with the decision. The first week was a little tough with recovery, have popsicles on hand and lots of soft type foods that your child likes and STAY ON TOP of pain control. Good luck!

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L.B.

answers from Portland on

Our doctor recommended a course of antibiotics to reduce the size of the tonsils as our daughter was having some sleep apnea. That worked and her tonsils were reduced. L.

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A.R.

answers from Seattle on

I haven't had sleeping problems with my kids, but if you have a chance to get tonsils and adnoids out, do it! When I was young I had breathing problems and my adnoids were taken out. My mom said it helped. She had begged the dr. to take my tonsils out and he wouldn't. Unfortunately I was plagued with strep throat through college, but to get my tonsils taken out as an adult is terrible (I have seen a few people go through it). My daughter has breathing problems. I am taking her in for her 5 year check up soon and I am hoping the dr. will reccommend having these done.

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T.S.

answers from Eugene on

You didn't really give enough detail for me to understand why you are considering tonsils/adenoids surgery for a sleep problem. This may be night terrors or some other issue. Or is there something you did not mention like apnea or continued ear/throat infections?

Anyway, I want to give my story because, while USUALLY this kind of surgery is just fine and can improve many issues, we have lived with a 5 year--so far--nightmare from it and my daughter may suffer for the rest of her life.

She had sleep apnea from the time she was very little, and by age 4 was also regularly having runny noses, strep infections, and inability to breathe through her nose. We used a lot of nutritional support, which improved things but never completely. When she entered middle school (much bigger), and hit puberty at the same time, she not only began having more infections, but they were far worse and she actually lost her sense of smell entirely. She also began having stress headaches pretty frequently--they would go away with rest, but she just never REALLY rested well because the apnea also got worse.

We finally had her tonsils and adenoids out at age 13. She just turned 18. From the time she came off the anesthesia/pain meds after that surgery 5 years ago, she has had a continuous, extremely painful (8-11, on a scale of 10) headache for FIVE YEARS!!!

After every doctor, naturopath, homeopath, and even a neurologist tried to change her biochemistry for over a year--believing it had something to do with hormones and was a series of migraines (remember, this is CONTINUOUS--it never goes away, she wakes up with it, goes to bed with it, not a single headache free day in 5 years now)--and after she had tried every migraine medication, a raw foods diet, an anti-seizure medication (because somebody once discovered it helped some migraines) and finally steroids, we noticed something else.

Her jaw couldn't open and close straight--it went sideways as she moved it. A chiropractor we then saw, who happened also to be a former Operating Room nurse, told us it is actually a standard procedure during the operation to dislocate the patient's jaw while under general anesthesia if the bone structure is small and tight--to enable the positioning of the clamp that holds the jaw open, and to allow the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, and the assistant all to have their hands in their at once.

A later dental panoramic x-ray and further orthodontic real-time computerized tests with my daughter wired with electrodes to every muscle in her face and neck confirmed that her jaw was misaligned badly. The Temporal Mandibular Joint-TMJ-contains a very important nerve that connects the lower jaw with the brain, and any misalignment can cause incredible pain.

Of course, by the time we figured all this out, my daughter--who had spent her ENTIRE adolescence in deep, searing pain that mostly kept her out of school, away from friends, and in her darkened bedroom--would have nothing to do with ANYONE (including mom) who said they could finally help. Too many people had put her through too many things. She was depressed, and angry. I found suicidal poetry she had written about never being out of pain forever. She began cutting on herself.

Later, she developed an anxiety disorder and began self-medicating with illegal things in order to stop the pain.

The good news is that, as she has matured out of the deepest part of adolescence, she is now doing much better, taking good care of herself with an excellent diet, and finding ways to use relaxation techniques to at least make it all bearable. We may be able to finally get her to see an orthodontist to do the retainers and braces (for 3 years) that she was told she needed. Why? Because she has a longer perspective, AND because sometimes now her jaw actually locks!

Oh, one thing...the surgery DID cure the apnea, strep infections, and loss of sense of smell. All that is all better. But what a cost!

So, while thousands of these surgeries are performed successfully every year, PLEASE really think through whether tonsils/adenoids are really the problem. Also, if you do decide to go through with it, TALK to the surgeon about whether dislocation of the jaw is a possibility, and what you might be able to do to help with even the natural rebound of the muscles tensing after being under general anesthesia.

If you do it, I strongly suggest an immediate assessment by a cranio-sacral therapist/chiropractor in the first week afterwards. This might have helped in my daughter's situation.

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J.A.

answers from Seattle on

My daughter had her T&A pulled and it was the answer to all of our problems, she has slept better, her ear infections went away and her overall health improved and it has been three years now.
Good luck, I know it is a tough decision but if your son is having the problems it will be worth it and the surgery is really easy.
J. A

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R.B.

answers from Portland on

I work in Surgery,,,we do this procedure all the time..I say do it...I know this to be true..it will help.. if your child has other issues with sleeping (at least you can know that its not this problem),,He will be a happier child and will be able to enjoy life alot more....R.

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K.D.

answers from Seattle on

i am kind of in the same boat as you are. i have my 3 year old scheduled for a hearing test on Monday. when i was reading your request it struck me that my sons ears could be the reason that he cries out in the middle of the night. reading yours sounded like most evenings at our house.
just wanted to say thank you for opening my eyes to that possibility. hopefully if they do have to have the surgery sleep will improve.
K. Davis, Wa

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J.G.

answers from Anchorage on

the younger they have them out.. the better they do with surgery! My 6 YO just had hers out.. for his health - and YOURS (because this will break down if you don't get rest too) go ahead and get them out. He can live without these things.. and yes.. it can help his overall health. I am looking foward to a better rested daughter once she is healed from the surgery.

As with all procedures there are risks and yes.. also a minimal risk it might not help.. but chances are your son and your family will greatly benefit from this. As with all kinds of proecures.. the chances of it helping him are far greater than it not helping it at all.

best wishes.

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T.B.

answers from Seattle on

Hello,

My husband has sleep apnea and my son was having issues with it also. Sleep Apnea can wake them in the night and cause them to feel as though they are chocking. The soft palate relaxes so much that it blocks the airway. Removing the T&A at a young age can correct the issue as it did in my oldest son, however he was 6 when he had his removed and it was not an enjoyable event!!!! He was miserable!!!! The younger you get it done the better. It is difficult as a parent to do something that you know is going to cause your child pain, however the results are usually worth the guilt. By the way my oldest who had the sleep apnea issues did not sleep through the night until he was almost 2, i thought that i was just an inexperienced mom. Looking back i bet apnea was part of the issue that was not looked at. It was not until he was in school and always appeared tired that i started monitoring his sleep that i realized that he was having apnea eposides.
You can request a sleep study on children, this is a young feild 20-25 years old and they are still not sure about all of the reasons. Hope this helps and you get some sleep soon.
T.

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M.B.

answers from Portland on

It sounds like your son is having sleep apneia (the coming awake startled). I am sure his over-all health would improve with surgery. My daughters that had T & A removed were much healthier after the surgery. Good luck with whatever decision you make.

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A.N.

answers from Eugene on

Dear S.,
My son was two when our old time PED. Doc. told us he would grow out of it. He never did, we finally had a ENT, Doc look at him and suggested to do the surgery. The tonsils were done and the adnoids I think were left alone if memory serves me right. My son was seven when we did this and he is now 11.
OUtside of the conserns of surgery you have to consider the issues of sleep, eating and when he has a cold the trouble he is having swallowing. I believe your righton track with you ENT.
Good luck concerned Paremt A/T needz1

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