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Wait for tonsil surgery with severe sleep apnea?

Feb 2012

Our 7 year old is waiting for tonsil/adenoid surgery - it will likely be a 6 week wait - in the meantime she is having pretty severe sleep apnea - there is not much we can do to expedite the surgery (Kaiser - wait in line) so I guess my question is more of a concern about her health in the meantime - how long can a kid go with really bad sleep apnea before more serious complications present? Is this a 'standard' amount of time to have to wait? Are there other parents out there that have been through this? It is so bad that I don't sleep for watching and trying to get her to breathe....six weeks feels like an eternity... exhausted mom


If your child has SEVERE, DIAGNOSED-SLEEP APNEA Kaiser should have given you an alarm for her to wear at night? She is most likely already sleeping in your room? Longterm effects are nil assuming she doesn't stop breathing for an extended period of time and there will be none if the surgery is successful? Call your doctor back and ask for a re-assessment of priority based on the probability of long-term brain damage due to oxygen deprivation....that comes from the airway guy, my husband. Good Luck. Dr's wife
Contact acupuncturist Mina Karimbadi, she has lots of experience treating children with tonsil/adenoid issues, even avoiding the need for surgery for some. http://www.mina-k-acupuncture.com/about-us.html She was very helpful when my boyfriends daughter had swollen adenoids. jp
Hi - We were in the exact same position with our 4 year old daughter a few years ago. She was a mess both physically from sleep deprivation and emotionally because she was unable to think. It was horrible and I slept in her bed every night for fear she would stop breathing altogether. We were with Kaiser too and I complained non-stop until they changed her surgery date. Be that squeaky wheel and, hopefully, you will get surgery sooner. Exaggerate if you have to. And it is dangerous, it interferes with their development so it should not be delayed. On the positive side, once our daughter had the surgery there was immediate and profound improvement. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel! While you're waiting, do all the little things you can to make her comfortable. You've probably already heard these tips but we did the following: eat extremely healthy foods (nothing processed), drink lots of water, raise the head end of her bed, use a firm anti-allergy pillow, and consider trying Breathe Rights (size small might work). Hang in there! anon
I am a pediatric otolaryngologist (ENT) at UCSF. I understand how hard it is to wait and that sometimes you can feel like you are back in the newborn period with frequent checking to see if your child is still breathing! While obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be very distressing and disruptive of both your child's and your sleep, it is safe to wait 6 weeks. The complications of OSA occur over years, rather than weeks. These can include poor school performance, distracted or hyperactive behavior, dental changes, and in very severe cases, heart problems. If your child is otherwise healthy, a few weeks or months delay should not harm him/her. If you have more questions, feel free to email me! Anna

3 year old toddler and tonsil surgery

Dec 2011

My daughter has ridiculously large tonsils (I can't believe she can swallow anything). ENT says they need to come out. I would appreciate any advice from any parents of toddlers (mine is 3) who have moved forward with the surgery. I am very nervous, and would love some idea of what to expect from the whole thing (Children's Hospital) and recovery. Thanks


My daughter was about a year older than yours when she had her tonsils (and adenoids) out. It was such a hard decision, one I kept putting off, trying to avoid, and worrying endlessly over. My daughter, however, had starting experiencing bouts of apnea and had fallen down to the 5th percentile for weight, so clearly something had to be done, and we went ahead with the surgery. It has changed her quality of life and I now regret that we waited so long to do it! She sleeps beautifully and within less than a year has reached the 30th percentile for weight. She has never been healthier! We are really happy with the results.

Before the surgery I consulted with a homeopath who suggested arnica montana for the recovery period. I don't know if it really helped or if it was a coincidence, but her recovery was AMAZINGLY smooth. She didn't even need any pain medication and was up and about within a day. It's worth a shot to give it a try, in my opinion. No regrets


Recovery tips for tonsil surgery for a 2yr old

June 2011

My 2 year old son is scheduled for Tonsil and Adenoid removal at Children's Hospital. Dr. Wessman will be performing the surgery. For parents who have gone down this road , can you offer any pre surgery tips, pain relief and recovery tips? I understand the recovery process is very painful and can last up to 14 days. I haven't seen much written on recovery and the only advice is generic and general (lots of cold fluids). I'd like to know things like how to get your toddler to take the meds or drink when they don't want to. What distracted them from the pain? Was there a particular type of pain med that was better than another? Please share your experience, I would greatly appreciate it! Worried mom


One of the worst decisions I ever made as a parent was to give my son, five years ago, pain relief ''as needed.'' My son had very deep and large tonsils, and my ENT doc and the nurses warned me that his pain would be more pronounced because of it. After a day or two of waiting for the tylenol with Codeine to kick in, because I waited for him to ''need'' the painkiller, I finally got on board with prophylactically (in other words given on a round-the- clock schedule) giving the medication. Once, your child experiences acute pain, good luck with getting him or her to swallow anything. I had been concerned with over-medicating or causing the attendant constipation that Codeine can cause and realized, quickly, that the pain was the priority.

Another thing that seemed to help were lollipops, which could be purchased at Long's, at the time, which were on these kind of bendy, soft, looped holders. Your child is too young for throat lozenges, like mine was, so this is a soothing alternative to lozenges. And, popsicles and plenty of them. 2 weeks was about the time period for significant pain and no hard or crusty foods. Finally, we were told that the act of swallowing promoted healing.

Good luck to you and your child. Been there, done that


Hi-- our son (now 9) had this operation at 3. The recovery was tough! Here are the things I remember the most clearly: 1) request to be in the recovery room at the hospital before your child actually wakes up. Our son had a different surgery at 18 months and woke without us-- freaked out, screaming, a horrible scene with very unsympathetic staff. So for surgery at 3 we insisted with all doctors, nurses etc.-- we had to make a real stink to get in that room before he woke up but we did, and he saw our faces first. 2) getting the medicine in him once we were home was AWEFUL!! He cried, writhed, spat it out repeatedly, silly nurse on advise line thought she had it covered by getting him on the phone and telling him to take his medicine. Ha! We tried different flavors, chewable version, all manner of special spoons and droppers. In the end my husband sat on him, guestimated how much was spat out with each try, and repeated process until enough got down throat to approximate a dose. Then we made a sticker chart to record doses and son had the choice between taking medicine the regular way with mom, or do it the sit-on way with dad. I think we had to do one more sit-on-him routine before he took the medicine the regular way. Repeat, it was aweful! We were terrified about infection --husband grew up with doctors, nurses and hospitals-- and of course it all worked out in the end. Note this might not be your experience-- our second kid loves medicine!! Our kid is fine now
Hi, my daughter had Adenoid removal only surgery with Dr. Wessman last year at 2*3/4 yrs. She was diagnosed at 2yrs but we decided to wait until older for personal reasons. Dr. Wessman/the entire Child's Hosp team is fantastic. We opted to give her the meds prior to anesthesia that makes the child quite dopey yet will erase the memory of actually going under the anesthetic (and you leaving) that is so scary for them.

Our daughter only had the Adenoidectomy, but the surgery itself was surprisingly fast. The wait post-op was long; the nurses did not bring us back to recovery until she was already waking up. That was tough as she awoke screaming as most kids do as it is scary and confusing. Please push, gently, to remind them to get you out of the waiting room the moment they will allow you to be with your son.

It took awhile for our daughter to come out of the anesthesia, but nothing out of the ordinary. All in all, it really was quite fast. Her surgery was at 8a; we were on our way home by 9:30a our daughter fast asleep. Around midday she ate some soup, but sleeping most of the day was the way she recovered. She awoke for ice chips, soup, or pedialite popsicles. I was expecting a much more difficult/lengthy recovery, and was surprised at how fantastic she rebounded.

They gave us a scrip for a Tylenol/codeine painkiller, which we tried once & she immediately threw it up. We stuck instead w/a fairly strong dose of Children's Tylenol for that first 24 hours post surgery and it worked perfectly for her. The second 24 hours we still gave her the Tylenol, not as much nor as often. By day 3 it was almost business as usual: still gave her something at night to help her sleep, but both appetite and behavior were just about back to normal. Her voice was hoarse for about one week, but that was it.

In advance of the surgery we talked casually to her about going to the hospital, then a few days prior really walking her through what the night before (no 3am glass of milk) and morning of would be like. The staff at Children's were TOPS and everyone fully engaged her, as well as us.

We wish you the very very best, and hope you and your son have the same experience/success that we did. Sara


My child had an adenotonsillectomy at Children's Hospital with Dr. Desman a few years ago. he was 4, not 2, but it wasn't so bad. A few rough days with a very sore throat, but he was much better in about 5 days. It is my understanding that the younger children recover much faster than older- teenagers take about 10-14 days to recover, and adults can take even longer.

Dr. Wesman, the anesthesiologist, and the nurses at Children's were all fantastic! They explained everything to us, gave us instructions about how to take care of him at home, and what to feed him. Dr. Wesman ordered some Tylenol with codeine, and it worked pretty well. My child was a little fussy, but it really wasn't so bad.

Try not to worry too much; lots of kids need this surgery, and after a week or so you will probably be glad you decided to go ahead with it. My child slept much better after having the surgery, and got sick much less often. It was definitely worth it!

Also, before the day of surgery we had an appointment with a specialist at Chidren's who was great; he explained everything that would happen to my son, and showed him some of the equipment, and did some play therapy. It really helped my child understand what would happen, and I felt a lot less anxious, too. You can ask Dr. Wesman's office staff about it, I think they still offer that service to all surgery patients. Anon


Flonase for 5 year old with enlarged adenoids

April 2010

I'm seeking any anecdotal comments from parents whose young children were also prescribed Flonase. In our case, our daughter was recently prescribed Flonase for swollen adenoids - her symptoms (likely not due to alergies) are 1) inability to breathe through her nose, though no congestion is present and 2) mild sleep apnea due to mouth breathing and also slightly enlarged tonsils. I completely agree with her pediatrician that it's best to try to go slowly down the path before we go straight to surgery, the spray may or may not decrease the size of the adenoids - but it seems a worthwhile risk before all-out removal. Of course, I have also read scary things about Flonase (loss of ability to smell at all, other reactions) and know there are risks with steriods, although the dose is very small and we would not consider this a long-term (more than 4-6 week) remedy. I'd love to know if you were in the same boat with your child, and what your thoughts are. FWIW we are not anti-surgery if that is the best remedy, but would love to hear about other possible routes. Thanks for your time in advance. mouth breather's mama


I recently have been suffering with the same symptom for no apparent reason: I cannot breath through my right nostril and yet there's no congestion. It's uncomfortable and disturbing. I always try ''natural'' cures before prescriptions. This works for me: mix 8 oz of distilled or boiled water with 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt and 1/4 tsp baking soda, use a nasal spray bottle, spray one or two squirts into nosrils in morning and evening. I got the ''recipe'' from the internet. This has eased my symptoms tremendously. Coincidentally, I just read through the Flonase pamphlet two days ago: it's about 2 1/2 feet wide by 1 1/2 feet high! I was disturbed that it can stunt growth and make you gain weight, among other things. I 100% believe in taking prescriptions when NECESSESARY, which to me means the symptoms are far worse than possible side effects. On a side note, I have been hearing more stories of this same symptom, my feeling is that some environmental factor is damaging our sensitive mucosal lining. I also had ''dry'' eye problems when I lived in the bay area, possibly from air pollution. Good luck,hope it helps and hope it goes away forever! k.
We tried Flonase for my mouth-breathing boy whose adenoids were huge but he *hated* the medicine (and he's usually quite tolerant of these things). Apparently the taste of it running down his throat was quite unpleasant. So we went with the surgery sooner than later and could not have been happier. He could breathe through his nose for the first time, and no longer snored or woke himself up due to trouble breathing. My only regret was that it wasn't suggested sooner (he was in 4th grade at the time). Anon
We were in the same situation with our daughter. We tried Flonase, she had a bad reaction (hives) - another one (I forget the name) didn't work that well. We opted for surgery since it turned out she had a chronic strep infection. It was the best decision ever, wish we had done it years earlier. She's barely been sick in the four years since we did it, and she used to get sick all the time. It stopped the snoring too. I'm actually surprised they're not telling you to yank them right now, sleep apnea is usually an indication all by itself for surgery. -anon

Adult Tonsillectomy Experiences?

Feb 2009

I have been told I need to have a tonsillectomy. I have read that it is extremely painful. Right now I am feeling dizzy just thinking about it-and I just don't know if I can go through with it. Anyone else out there done the procedure and lived. Am I being a wimp- or is it a much bigger deal than when children have it done. By the way, I am 39.... pam


I had this done when I was in my late 20s. It really did hurt incredibly and I was off work for 2 weeks (my job involves a lot of public speaking--this would have been impossible). So yes, it is not a fun experience at all. If you have kids you will need someone to care for them for days afterwards because the painkillers (totally necessary for me) really knock you out.

That said, I am glad I did it because before, I got sick all the time. Since then, it's pretty rare. anon


I had my tonsils and adenoids out when I was 14 years old. I had tonsilitis over & over again my whole life before that and never again after. Seems like I was always down with some throat or resperatory problem, then afterwards, none. I remember that it hurt. I ate ice cream, yogurt, ice, & took some pain killers at first. But it only hurt a bit more than tonsilitis so.. Plus, I lost some fat and could wear my shirt tied up which was cool... albeit short lived. I also had 3 unrelated operations here at Alta Bates and I gotta say I was sad to leave. They took very good care of me. I loved staying in bed with the motor remote and magazines, TV, pillows...lovely nurses fetching me everything..the food was really good... I'd do it again.
I have to admit, it is rather painful having your tonsils removed past a certain age. If you need to have them removed, please be brave and do so ASAP. I began having problems with my tonsils when I was 14 years old (they would swell, I wouldn't be able to eat, etc) and eventually they were so infected that puss began to come out of them. This persuaded doctors to schedule me for surgery at the age of 17. I am 21 now and couldn't be happier (using my mom's BPN account to respond to your post) I was out of work and school for 2 weeks because I couldn't eat (which would cause me to feel lightheaded and dizzy). However, the medicine the doctor gives you works extremely well and most of the time, you are asleep so it isn't too bad. I can also tell you that the only foods you'll be able to eat are pudding, ice cream (make sure you switch ice creams every couple of days or you'll feel bored), mashed potatoes, lots of water, tea, etc. I wish you the very best luck with your tonsillectomy and your recovery! Patricia
I had my tonsils out about 10 years ago, when I was in my late 20s. It was an outpatient procedure: I went into the hospital for the surgery in the morning, and went home again that afternoon. While it's been a while and I'm now fuzzy on the details, I do remember took me significantly longer to recover than I had counted on. The pain was pretty unpleasant, like a really, really, really bad sore throat. I couldn't eat much beyond thin soups, ice cream, and jello, and I don't think I could talk for at least a week. The pain reliever I was prescribed was great because it came in a cold liquid form. The worst part was getting over the anesthesia -- it made me very queasy, so much so that for about 24 hours right after the surgery I threw up every time I sat up. Vomiting when you have stitches in the back of your mouth is *not* fun. But don't let all this deter you -- I'm so, so glad I had it done, since my overall health improved significantly. I'd say that you should ask your doctor lots of questions in advance (for example: how long does it take most people to recover? What kind of painkillers are prescribed? How can you be expected to react to the anesthesia?), provide yourself with at least a week of recovery at home and take it slow afterwards, and make sure you have someone to help you during that time. Oh, and have lots, and lots of ice -- slivers of ice to suck on, ice packs for your neck, and lots of water in general since you need to hydrate yourself like crazy, even though it will really hurt to swallow for a good week to ten days.

One other thing I just remembered: maybe it was the painkillers, but I had a strange metallic taste in my mouth for a long time, but eventually it went away. short term pain, lifelong gain


I feel for you. I had my tonsils out when I was 19 and it was pretty awful. That was over a decade ago so maybe things are better now. (I think they used a laser on me.) I can't remember how long I was down, but at least a couple weeks. Coughing was so painful it would bring on tears. I remember waking up in the middle of the night coughing -- that was the worst. Other than that, you're severely restricted in what you can eat for a while - only super soft foods. This isn't so bad except in general you can't get enough protein to go about your usual life. This was before I knew about protein shakes/smoothies though, so maybe this won't be as bad for you. I was young enough to be at home and my mom made me Jell-o, sauteed mushrooms, frozen bananas, etc. Not very sustaining stuff.

If you've been told you need them out by a doctor, I think you should go ahead with it. It's not a fun experience, but after it's done, it's done and you'll be in better shape. My tonsils kept getting really swollen and would only go down to normal while I was on antibiotics. As soon as I went off them, the swelling returned. After about 3 rounds, I was scheduled for the surgery. I had trouble breathing while hiking in the mountains and could tell a difference when swallowing food. Since then I've had no problems whatsoever. So I guess this is a really long way of saying it sucks, but do it and get it over with. If you can, schedule a significant amount of time off and accept help from friends and family. Good luck! Not as bad as childbirth, but pretty awful


I did not read your initial post but thought I would give my 2 cents. I had a combined tonsils and adenoids out/sinus surgery when I was 30 y.o. The tonsillectomy was very painful and it took a few weeks for me to recover/take care of myself. I could eat barely anything for that time. Having my tonsils out was the best thing I ever did though.. i should have had them out as a kid. I get sore throats now, but they are nothing compared to what I had. I had constant tonsillitis which is now no more. Bottom line..if you have a lot of problems with your tonsils, you will be glad to get rid of them and the pain will be worth it in the long run. Just make sure you have a good support system to help take care of you and enough time off work, b/c you will feel pretty awful for awhile. lg
I had my tonsils and adnoids removed as an adult. I felt highly misled when people told me that I could enjoy frozen yogurt, smoothies, ice cream etc. My throat hurt so badly that I could not eat or drink anything for several days. Other than that, it was not that bad and I even lost a few lbs which was a happy surprise. You will be ok but just don't expect to feel anything but pain in your throat for several days. no more tonsils
I had my tonsils out in my mid-20s and it wasn't too bad. I was off work for a week and conserved energy by laying on the couch watching mindless TV. As for food, I quickly figured out what was and was not painful to eat. Popsicles are great as long as you stay away from acidic flavors like citrus. One idea is to make apple juice popsicles. Also, the ONLY yogurt that didn't sting going down my throat was the La Crema vanilla flavor. I lived on those the whole week! My family also made stewed rice for me - just steamed Japanese rice simmered with water for a long time until the rice is really soft and doesn't have to be chewed at all. Also, jello was a good option for me. Hope that helps. Tonsillectomy wasn't so bad

Adenoid surgery for 2-year-old

July 2008

My 2 year old daughter has experienced asthma symptoms, robust snoring and frequent lingering colds for a year and after a recent visit to the ENT doctor, surgery was recommended for large adenoids. The x-ray showed that her nasal passage was largely constricted and that most cases resulted in surgery. We have reservations on performing surgery with general anesthesia at her age, especially since it's not effecting her sleep or speech. We were given a steroid nasal spray to see if we could shrink the adenoid, but if it doesn't work we'd like to explore other options to surgery. erica


Wondering why you are so sure that your daughter's sleep is okay? Did you do a sleep study? Generally with the symptoms you mention she is probably not getting enough oxygen at night. Is she ever cranky or hyper active? Does she sleep in strange positions, wet the bed at night (or produce too much urine in her diaper). We had our child's adenoids removed when he was 2 1/2 and have not regretted it for a second although we were terrified to make the decision, it turned out to be no biggie at all! I can't believe the energy we wasted over this and the fear we had, it was basically an in and out procedure and he was home watching tv a few hours later, running around the next day like nothing happened. BTW studies show it's very important for young children to get sufficient oxygen for brain and body development (these are the critical years) and if your child is snoring I wouldn't assume that she is getting what she needs. It greatly improved our sons quality of life, he had a big language spurt after and we didn't realize this, but he couldn't smell things so all of a sudden a new world opened up! anon

Adenoid surgery for 17-month-old

July 2008

My 17 month old son has a very large Adenoid which he is scheduled to have removed at the same time they put ear tubes in at Oakland Childrens. They will have to knock him out and put a breathing tube in. Does anyone have experience with this? He snores very loud, had sleep apnea, ear infections, and many illnesses during the last winter. Because BPN is going on vacation, I would welcome you responding to me directly, the surgery is scheduled for July 3rd... freaked out


I know it's scarey, but I'd go ahead and do it. It's not a procedure you are doing for frivolous reasons, but to help make your child healthier and better able to sleep. Children's Hosp is wonderful and very, very experienced in helping babies (and their parents), so I'd say be brave and go for it. It's a simple procedure, doesn't take very long, and I've seen it make a world of difference. Good luck. bonnie

Tonsils and adenoids both for 3-year-old?

May 2008

We are considering adenoid / and possibly tonsil removal for our 3 year old. Wed very much appreciate hearing from other parents re: the choice of the technique used We understand that Dr. Wessman uses the cold knife approach only, whereas Doctor Drury recommends using radio-frequency, claiming that it reduces bleeding and the healing is slightly easier. Another question is the choice of removing only the adenoids versus removing the tonsils as well (given that our son's tonsils are only moderately enlarged.) According to our pediatrician, a recent study showed that children having only adenoids/or tonsils removed faired equally well to those have both removed. However, one of the ENT's we spoke to said that parents usually end up returning to have the other organs removed. Thanks very much for your input. anonymous


My daughter had extremely inflamed tonsils which constricted her breathing especially at night and she was extremely prone to sinus colds. I decided to have her tonsils and adenoids removed when she was three. Since then she has had maybe one or two slight colds, she's never sick and she breathes normally at night. I don't know if it was really necessary to remove her adenoids but she's been extremely heathly ever since (four years ago). anon
Hi. We had our now 10 yr old daughter's tonsils and adnoids out between K and 1st grade. Wessman did the operation. It went very smoothly; no complications. We did it because she kept getting strept throat and Scarlette Fever, 2-3 x per year. Since then, she's barely had a cold. A remarkable improvement in her health AND in her enjoyment of food, as the swollen adnoids decrease taste. The hardest thing about the operation was watching our child go under sedation and her waking up from it --disoriented and in some pain. To that end, if I were you, I'd have both taken out so as to avoid any possibility of having to repeat the procedure. Good luck Dana
My son had both removed. We didn't even discuss only removing the tonsils, it was always both, and I never questioned why; I just figured both were responsible for the repeated strep infections (among others). Since we have Kaiser, we didn't really have a choice as to the method (I am pretty sure they did cold knife) Recovery was easy until the tissue in the back of the throat started to heal, and then my son was in pain (about 5 days afterward) and would not eat. The surgery was really rough on me, I didn't like seeing my son out of it pre- and post-op, with dried blood on his face, visualizing them pulling out his tonsils and adenoids through his nose (since he was intubated). But since he has had the surgery he has been rarely sick, which has been GREAT. So I am glad we got everything out in one shot. anon
My daughter had her adenoids out with Dr Wesman before the age of two. He advised us to do the tonsils too, but I was convinced it was the adenoids causing the problem so opted against his advice. Big mistake. We were back again 4 months later getting her tonsils out, her snoring and sleep apnea had returned, worse than ever. Miracle surgeries, once it is all taken care of. At age 4 1/2 she is a silent and wonderful sleeper/breather, after the first 2 years of her life struggling with very bad sinus problems and horrible sleep apnea. Dr Wesman knows his stuff. Can't speak to alternate approaches, but I trust his judgement. Deb
Dr. Wessman removed my daughter's adeniods and tonsils at the same time in 2006 (she was 4). Her tonsils were not infected but were large and causing sleep apenia. He removed the adenoids so that he would not have to do a second surgery later. The recovery time was about 5 days and since that time, she has been great! My advice is take them both at once with Dr. Wessman. You won't regret it. Happy and Tonsil & Adenoid Free

Tonsillectomy to help 3-year-old sleep better?

Dec 2007

My 3 yr. old son was recently recommended for a tonsilectomy and removal of the adnoids. They suspect he may have sleep apnea, although this has not been comfirmed. He was examined by a head and neck specialist through Kaiser, Dr. Gottshall and they found his tonsils to be very enlarged and nasal passages blocked quite a bit. I'm feeling uncertain about the surgery. I would love very much for him to sleep better, he wakes often during the night, which is hard on both of us. Am I expecting too much from the surgery and is it completely justified? I know these are questions for the doctor, but I would appreciate any parental input, particularly from those of you who have been through this. What can I expect and how did you make the decision to go through with it? Much thanks, Jeanette


My son had adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy surgery when he was three and a half and we had a very good outcome. His sleep improved and he could finally breathe. I posted this response on the BPN only recently, and have posted about this before. I'm wondering if advice seekers are reading the archive. The advice is there to read. Rebecca

Allergies, Tonsils and Sleep Apnea - help

Sept 2007

My son who will be 3 in Dec has just been diagnosed with sleep apnea due to enlarged Tonsils and adenoids (snoring & labored breathing, sleeping w/head thrown back etc). He4s scheduled for a T&A in 3 weeks but I am really anxious as to whether we4ve made the right choice. I4ve read all the archives which have been really helpful but I still have some questions and would appreciate any and all advice and experiences, particularly regarding the following:

1. Speech problems post T&A? I4ve read that some children develop speech problems after the surgery but couldn4t find out more info. I4m concerned because I recently ran into a young adult who had a T&A for sleep apnea at age 5 and he definately has a problem with pronouncing words, I don4t know if it was a side effect from the T&A but now I am wondering - am I trading one problem for another one? Has anyone had experience with this and did speech therapy help? This has really worried me because although this guy had a relatively minor speech problem, I am sure for him it was a big deal, and has probably had a major impact in his social and professional life and I4d feel so so guilty if the surgery caused this in my son.

2. What causes large tonsils? Could allergies be involved and so will that still have to be addressed? I haven4t been able to find info on why the tonsils are so big. He4s only had 2 throat infections and one ear infection. And although my son doesn4t seem to have any allergies (no runny nose, or red eyes) but he did have a red rash on his cheeks and legs as a young infant, this resolved after about 6 months but just this week came back I think from swimming in a pool. Also as a infant he threw up a lot, I did both breast and formula but didn4t seem related to either in particular. He often has dark circles under the eyes which I now read is could be a sign of allergies or lack of sleep. Recently I read in a book that all these are signs he may have allergies and I wonder if that may be what has caused his enlarged tonsils. He also has some behavior issues - he4s very whining, cries a lot and has frequent tantrums which is why I noticed this book on allergies and behavior. Did anyones Dr explain why the tonsils and adenoids are large? Did anyone notice a connection to allergies?

3. Does anyone regret having the surgery? When I found out about the diagnosis I was so relieved and sure about the surgery but now I am so worried and have such doubts. But I am having a really hard time listening to him struggle for air every night, it4s torture and I don4t want to delay the surgery searching for some phantom allergy. Any and all advice would be welcome! cath


Having tonsils out can actually help allergies and asthma (not just sleep apnea) dissapate, it did with our two sons who had tonsillectomies at around age 3. they both began eating better, speaking more, and had a major growth spurt within 4 months. Both my sons had and continue to have food allergies, and it was our allergist who first suggested the tonsilectomies. If you are worried about allergies don't rely on your pediatrician, take your son to an allergist. We love the berkeley practice with Dr. James Nickelson, Dr Lodewick etc. Dr. Lodewick is our doc and he is great with my boys, and myself (I have asthma as well).

But the upshot of my advice to you is that exploring possible allergies in your son won't rule out a tonsilectomy--the Tonsilectomy might actually help. If you need advice from an allergist quick, before the procedure, call up dr. lodewicks office and tell them that you want answers to your questions before the procedure, see if they could get you in to see one of the docs. they could explain the whole relationship of allergies/tonsils much better than I. The symptoms you described sounded similar to my food allergic boys but that is far from a doctor's diagnosis. I think you just might feel better with more info.

We were nothing but pleased with our kids' tonsilectomies, which were performed at Children's by Dr. Wesman. Good luck! anon


I know it's really scary to think about your child having surgery. While deciding ''yes'' or ''no'' to the surgery is a decision best made with you and your doctor, I just wanted to share my experience in the hope that it will make you feel better. My son had sleep apnea and, as a result, had the same surgery. He has no speech problems whatsoever now. (I also had this surgery many years ago as a child and also have no speech problems.) In my son's case, the doctors said there was a possibility that his adenoids would shrink when he reached puberty so we could wait (a long time) to see. We decided to go ahead with the surgery and couldn't be happier. Being able to breathe freely has changed his life! Now that he can sleep and eat normally, he is so much happier and healthier. Again, it's really between you and your doctor, but from what you've described about your son's situation, I wouldn't hesitate to get the surgery. Good luck with your decision. - Been there, done that, couldn't be more relieved
My daughter had the T and A surgery last year. She was never diagnosed with sleep apnea, but she had lots of sleep problems. Although the recovery wasn't great (about ten days), she hasn't had any complications or problems. She definitely seems to be sleeping better now and has grown quite a bit since the surgery. I definitely have no regrets even though surgery is a scary option. Email me if you have any questions. Our surgeon was Dr. Wesman.
Our 13-year-old had his tonsils and adenoids out last summer -- and I was very sorry we waited so long. The surgery was harder (because adenoids are bigger and there's a larger area to heal after the surgery) and the recovery took longer than that of kids we know who were much younger. And he's sleeping much better since the surgery. So I'm sorry we didn't get it done when he was much younger. Ann
At about the same age as your son is now, the ENT doc wanted to remove my daughter's T&A. For the same reasons you have, I was so worried that I opted to go with only an adenoidectomy; the ENT doc was not happy with my decision but agreed to it. Without adenoids, her apnea/snoring/lack of good sleep improved, and there was no difference at all in her speech or voice. One difference in what you describe in your son and in my daughter's circumstance is that she had many sinus & ear infections. She continued to suffer from those, even after the adenoids were out, and when she was older, age 10, she had her tonsils removed. After that, she didn't snore at all, but she still has sinus issues and is often congested. Her voice was a bit softer sounding for a while after her tonsils were gone; there was no change in her speech. One thing you might consider is allergy testing, although I got mixed messages about the reliability of those tests in young children. Getting good rest is so important. In hindsight, I think it would have been better to do both the T&A at once, because having the tonsils out helped much more than just having the adenoids out. If you should decide to move ahead with the surgery, be sure to get the pain killer prescriptions filled. My daughter really needed the pain medicine with codeine for a couple of days, and she used all of it. It's good that you're asking questions and researching for your son. I think you should follow your mommy instincts because you know your son best. snort snort's mom
We had my daughter's tonsils and adenoids out before she was two, due to severe sleep apnea and constant sinus infections. It was for us truly a miracle surgery - I'm glad we did not wait. Her voice DID sound different and she had some trouble with anunciation for a little while (weeks, maybe up to a couple months?) but it resolved. She sleeps, breaths, talks great now at age 3. anon
My 2yo son's HUGE tonsils were first noted by his speech therapist who thought that they might be affecting his ennunciation. He had been snoring loudly and having sleep apnea so we followed up with Dr. Wesman and he recommended having them removed. My son also had the dark circles but I think they were from being tired because of the apnea he was not able to get a restful sleep. It was a really really tough decision to have the surgery but after doing lots of online research and talking with another mother who had it done, we agreed to go ahead with it.

My son had his tonsils and adenoids removed two weeks before his third birthday. What ever people tell you, the recovery is really really tough with a T&A. You don't realize until you are in it. His poor face was really swollen and he was just miseable beyond belief. I cried the first couple nights wondering if I had done the right thing. My son was in a lot of pain and wouldn't even take the tylenol with codeine at first - we finally got him to take the regular infant tylenol and made sure he got the appropriate dosage based on weight not age. It was a FULL ten days before he even started to act like his normal self again. Ice cream, snow cones and popcicles didn't event tempt him. Just lots of juice, water, videos, and snuggle time with mom.

Speech problems? Our son's speech improved and a year later no longer needed speech therapy. He is now 5 and sleeps great never snores and is growing like a weed.

I have no regrets about the surgery and am actually very thankful that we had it done. It is the toughtest in the last hour before surgery and in the first couple days after the operation but know that it will help your child in so many ways. Don't delay. Two years later my son doesn't remember a thing about it and hasn't been traumatized for life.

I would whole heartedly recommend Dr. Wesman at Children's Hospital. My daughter had a couple ear infections and some snoring so I also brought her in to him for evaluation at 3yo and he said to wait and see to see if she grew out of it - so he isn't just pushing surgery - he knows that it is tough on the kids (and parents). And he is wonderfully responsive - about 4 days after the surgery my son coughed up some blood and of course I freaked out and called. Dr. Wesman returned my call immediately even though it was 10:30 at night. He knew exactly what to say to calm a paniky mom and I felt so much better.

Feel free to email me if you have any more questions. I know it is a really overwhelming thing. ehey


I understand exactly what you're going through!!! Four years ago I was in your shoes. My then 4 year old had such bad sleep apnea that he had to sleep sitting up (literally at a 90 degree angle)...it got so bad that every breath was a struggle, and he'd foam at the mouth, he was rushed to the ER 3 times because he'd suffocate in his sleep. Finally a friend (NOT an MD) suggested we have his A&T's checked out. Sure enough his adenoids were very enlarged, and his tonsils were slightly enlarged. Around the same time, he was diagnosed as having auditorty processing disorder. We THOUGHT the apnea and this diagnosis were not related in any way, but we soon found out that they were. He had difficulty communicating his needs, and had problems socializing in pre-school. After some hesitation, we decided to have our son's A&T's removed. Let me tell you, the difference in our son was amazing. He started talking in complete sentences, he stopped growling in school and started using his words, the bags were gone from under his eyes because he was finally able to get a good night's sleep. Within 10 days of the surgery everyone that came into contact with him commented on the changes in his speech and behaviour. Your son is most likely whiny and throws tantrums because he's tired! He hasn't had a good, fitfull night's sleep in ages. What happended to the auditory processing disorder? Gone! Turns out my son couldn't hear very well. It took him longer to understand commands and follow conversations because his hearing was affected by the enlarged adenoids. Four years later my son is in the 3rd grade, reading at a 5th grade level, communicates beautifully, and the sound of him sleeping soundly is literally music to my ears. Severe year round allergies run in my family, so I know that he also suffered from allergies, but I don't think that was the sole cause of the enlarged A&T. By the way, the T&A procedure has come a long way over the years. The young adult you met probably had his surgery years ago, and who knows if he also had other health issues that also affected his speech? Good luck! Been There
I could have written your post 4 years ago before we had our son's toncils and adenoids removed due to severe sleep apnea. The only thing that I regret is not having done the surgery sooner. I too wanted to see if allergies were the problem and secondly we were scared of the procedure. Our child did have allergies and used claritin and benedryl, but these did not help with the apnea. Sharing a room with him, listening to the gasping for air, constant body movement in wierd positions to get air, and nearly nightly bedwetting convinced us to have the surgery. Although it is 7-10 days recovery and uncomfortable (we fed him icees or whatever cold drink we could get him to have and took some of the anxiety away by getting him a small gift of an item that he wanted to open when it was all over) it was sooooo worth it. I can't believe that such a simple operation could have such a profound impact on our child's daily life. Without an adequate night sleep he was always crying and slightly off balance. He never wanted to go to bed. I had no idea how truely exhausted he was until it was all over. The third night following the surgery he announced so excitedly ''Mama, I was DREAMING...'' He had never been in an adequate sleep cycle to do this. The bedwetting stopped immediately. The only kind of difficult thing about the surgery was that our child was one of the very few to have ''combative post anasthesia.'' He doesn't remember any of this, but he was the only one out of a long bed line of kids coming out of anasthesia to scream and cry hysterically for about an hour after. The nurses at Oakland Children's were Wonderful though,a as was the surgeon, Dr. Wessman. Our boy is now nine, loves his bed, and will tell you himself what a difference for the physical and emotional health it feels to be well rested. Feel free to email if you have any other questions. -a mom of a well rested child bk
Our almost 4 yr. old son had the T&A last winter just after he turned 3 and while his mother and I were as apprehensive as you sound to us, in the end it was really pretty straightforward and our son recovered in a flash. Everything worked right and we have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. Our son always had trouble breathing even as an infant with a stuffy nose, nasal tones, snoring and sleep apnea and we would have just accepted that if it wasn't for a hearing deficit that started to emerge from fluid buildup in his ears. Thank goodness we had the procedure. No telling the developmental delays from his enlarged adenoids affecting his hearing and his sleeping.

We told him the procedure was to give him ''super hearing'' and he was into that. It was a little scary seeing him walk down the hallway to the OR with the nurse in his little gown, and the worst part was his waking up an hour later in pain, but we were there to comfort him and the medications did their job. He was home recovering for 3-4 days and then he was back to normal. Now he talks about his ''procedure'' and his ''super hearing'' with pride and his heariing, sleeping and breathing is indeed, super. We are so happy that we did it. m


Dear Cath, My heart goes out to you. Please trust your doubts and instincts about the surgery for tonsils and adenoids. They are necessary for a strong immune system. Also, surgically removing them DOES NOT guarantee that the sleep apnea will go away because the underlying problem likely remains. Some of the symptoms (especially behavior) you refer to sound SO much like food and/or chemical allergy symptoms. We have dealt with allergies in my family. There are some really good books (Doris Rapp's is one) that can help you with elimination diets and testing different foods. Good luck with this. lauren
My 5-year-old daugher had her tonsils and adenoids out in July, and like you, I was second guessing the decision up until the last moment. However, I am SO GLAD we did it. I'm sure there are parents out there whose kids have had the surgery and they aren't sure it was the right thing, but I did my research and it seemed that the vast majority of parents were really glad they went through with it.

Regarding post-op speech problems, I have not heard of this as a side effect or consequence of this surgery. My daugher's voice was temporarily changed by the surgery (it was higher and squeakier for a couple of weeks), but it is totally normal now.

Regarding allergies, I do not know if these are related to your child's large tonsils and adenoids. This is a ''rule out'' your doctor should consider. However, remember that dark circles under the eyes and difficult behavior, which you are attributing to possible allergies, are more likely the result of not being well rested because of the sleep apnea.

Assuming you do go through with the surgery, I just want to tell you that my daughter was in more pain the week following than we expected. It was a hard week and she was up a lot at night. But after day 7, she was ''back to normal''. I think some children, especially younger ones, tend to bounce back more quickly, but do be prepared to lay low at home with a fussy child for a week or so after the surgery. GOOD LUCK!! Liz O.


Our 6-yr old daughter has been speaking with a nasal sound and I contacted our holistic doctor. Her tonsils were huge and she produced much mucus. Our doctor did some testing and said that she has a gluten allergy. I had no idea what gluten was (it's a wheat protein) and it is used in bread, cereal, pasta's, etc. Gluten was in her daily diet, so we removed all foods that contained it for a few weeks and she cleared up dramatically. The tonsils went down to its normal size, the mucus was almost gone and she spoke normal again. I would definitely check out if allergies are involved before a more invasive surgery is performed. JOJ
My son had the same surgery a few years ago. It was one of the hardest decsions I had to make as a parent, but it turned out to be one of the best decsions I've ever made. I have absolutely no regrets. After months of listening to him struggle to breathe each night, he slept peacefully his first night post-op. He didn't make a sound!

As far as your questions go, I have never heard of kids having any speech issues post-op. I think some people are just born with enlarged tonsils/adenoids. Mine had to be removed when I was 18 mos old.

If you have any other questions about the surgery or recovery feel free to contact me. Jeanine


My second daughter had her tonsils and adenoids removed at five years of age. She also had ear ''tubes'' put in at the same time. She had recurring throat infections, but not so many, 3- 5?? She is now almost 19 years old and I never regretted her having the surgery. She wasn't diagnosed w/ sleep apnea but remember this was about 15 years ago so times were different then. I do know that she often stopped breathing during sleep and was a big-time snorer. All this changed after the surgery. She also gained weight and was just a healthier, happier kid. She is now a beautiful young woman in her sophomore year of college, never a problem with the surgery or issues w/ throat/adenoids since. My youngest daughter, who is 15 and a sophomore in high school has always had large tonsils. She snores sometimes but usually only when she's really tired. Her tonsils become enlarged when she's got a cold. Her doctor has monitored the tonsils throughout her lifetime but they haven't caused a problem (besides some snoring), so I haven't pushed to have them out. When the tonsils are enlarged I have her gargle in warm salt water. If she does this 4-5 times a day it definitely brings down the swelling and the discomfort. Finally, I had issues w/ throat infections as a child but way back then (I'm 47), taking out tonsils wasn't popular. I finally had to have them out when I was 19 and frankly it was more painful than my three childbirth experiences. I've heard that getting the tonsils out is way more painful for adults than children and it's true. The 6- year-old girl who shared a room w/ me was up within an hour, eating, drinking and watching TV. I, on the other hand, took three weeks to recover. So the reason why I'm sharing all of this w/ you is to help you think about doing the T&A surgery now, when your child is young, rather than wait until he's old enough for it to really hurt. And to let you know that when I did choose the surgery for my middle daughter it made a huge difference in her quality of life and I'm glad I decided for her to have the surgery. She was an outpatient, no overnight in the hospital, was a little sleepy for the first two days, then back to normal within 4/5 days. Good luck. Your son is lucky to have a Mom who is researching this decision so completely. Good luck, and if you have any more questions feel free to send me an email... Take care-Jody
Both of my boys have had tonsils and adenoids out due to sleep apnea and hugely enlarged tonsils (my younger son's tonsils restricted his airway, and it was scary when he got sick). My first was almost 4, my second was 2 1/2.

1. No speech issues. Both actually had the clarity of their speech improved. I also saw that numerous times with kids I saw in speech therapy--one child was dismissed completely from therapy 3 weeks after his surgery. He went from completely unintelligible to having no problems.

2. Yes, to allergies. Yes, it's a valid thing to consider. My younger son has multiple allergies (food and environmental), but treating the allergies wasn't making a difference in the tonsils. My elder son can't have any gluten or dairy. But we addressed allergy issues, and still had issues with the tonsils and sleep apnea, so we were ready to move forward. Giving high doses of allergy meds didn't seem like the best solution.

3. We do not regret it at all. In fact, the difference in my kids was profound. My 2 1/2 year old started sleeping through the night for the first time ever. He was walking up (and waking me up) sometimes every hour. The improvement in behavior of my elder son was amazing--he was now actually getting the sleep he needed.

I understand your hesitations--I had them as well. Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions. Heather


Our 3 year old son had his tonsils and adenoids removed just before he turned 3. He was never diagnosed with sleep apnea, but he had many many ear infections and had always been a huge mouth breather (we used to call him Darth Vader). Sleep wise he was up alot at night with us in the bed and while we tried to get him to sleep in his own bed, he was just waking up too much. We were all walking zombies (notice I said were). Since the surgery in June, he sleeps almost every night in his own room and gets a solid 10-11 hours each night as well as 1.5 hour nap each day. He is certainly not sleep deprived anymore. His dark circles are gone from his eyes and he gained 2 lbs over the summer and grew an inch.

To address your speech concerns, I was so nervous at first that his voice would be changed and it WAS for about 3 weeks. He had a very high pitched voice and was not annunciating well at all, but I think he was just protecting his sore throat. His voice may be slightly higher now, but the change has been minimal and he has no speech concerns.

As far as allergies causing big tonsils, we were basically informed that it was genetic, my husband also has big ones and had his removed when he was young. Our son does suffer from allergies, but I am not sure that big tonsils and frequent allergies in our son are more than coexistent.

Regrets: We have none. All of us sleep better, there is less whining, and more relaxing at night in our house, but it was very difficult. The recovery took much longer than I expected and was very sad. I think the hardest part was a small sense of guilt that we chose to have the surgery and our son did not understand what was happening or why. So all of the pain that he went through (and there was a lot of it)made me feel guilty--as if we could have avoided it. But after the fact, 10 days later he was almost back to himself and now we have a much happier and healthier son and a more well rested family. Feel free to contact me if you would like more information or have questions. jv


Hi, my son just had his tonsils removed, and his adenoids ''shrunk'' (I understand this to mean some kind of cauterizing tool to remove some tissue but not all of it) in the last week of August. I was not aware of speech issues as a possible post surgery issue and that would have just added to my already existing anxieties. About the allergies possibly being the cause of large tonsils, my primary care physician did tell me that allergies could be the cause of this. We treated for allergies using Nasonex and Claritin, and his condition slightly improved, but did not go away. He still had enlarged tonsils and a chronic runny nose. He also was snoring, had slight apnea nightly, recurring strep infections and a couple ear infections, though I suspect that his ears were always a little swollen, and sometimes he would ask me to repeat things that I said. So, that being said, I now have a boy no longer snores or tosses around to breathe at night and seems to get better sleep. You also mentioned the whining and crying - yup, mine too...I believe related to lack of sleep and his body always working to deal with the enlarged tonsils, infections and lymph nodes working in overdrive, and that has also seemed to diminish, (though I am not ruling out that his maturing into a 5 year old may have helped in this). About having to deal with the allergies still, I am waiting for the spring allergy season to see, otherwise, I am very happy with the results. I wish your son a speedy and hopefully not so painful recovery. - noticed huge improvement post surgery
My son, who is in the 5% for size/weight, has eczema, allergies, deviated septum, and was borderline sleep apnea (difficult to confirm 100% cause he was not fully cooperative w/ the sleep apnea test). He had his TA when he was 10yo by Kasey Li, ENT,DDS, Palo ALto, very well respected in the field. Afterwards my son said, ''I should have had this done long time ago. I can taste food now!'' My son healed quickly in three days, without benefit of pain medication, which he refused. (Healing from less skilled doctors for the same procedure is sometimes a week!) TA is a common procedure; not to worry.

To answer your question about the dark circles. My son often has the ''racoon'' look plus puffiness and rash on the crook of his arm and behind the knees. Not an award winning look. You should, if you have not already, take your child for allergy tests to determine the source of his allergy. Yes, the allergy, eczema, and sleep apnea area all related. The TA will be most effective if you take steps to address the allergies in conjunction w/ the TA procedure,ie it will be self defeating to do the TA until you have addressed the allergies. We have no regrets and only wish we had done this sooner. Operations are always less invasive/painful for kids than for adults. If you have doubts, get a second opinion from someone highly qualified like Dr. Kasey Li (see his website), though you may have a qualified dr. in your area. Our pediatrician had little to offer and may not even recognize a problem. It was my son's orthodontist who noted the problem (dark circules) and suggested that the TA might enlarge the breathing passage and, therefore, improve sleep and concentration. My son has improved in school AND he is starting to gain weight. -No regrets


My son's sleep apnea was also cured by removal of tonsils & adnoid, and I highly recommend the surgery for that reason. But don't be mistaken about the pain. It was extremely painful, and my 5 year old son often refused to swallow the liquid tylenol and advil that we were alternating (because the pain would return full force long before the time to give another dose of one drug), as swallowing the sweet syrup hurt his throat. Be prepared to insist on the pain meds, and keep them coming, alternating, to keep your child comfortable. Of course, clear this with your doctor. After the the fourth or fifth day (maybe it was the 6th or 7th?), when his throat seemed to feel less painful, the intense pain returned all over again. Just be ready to stay home from work with your kid for 2 weeks, and don't buy the claims that it ''hurts kids less.'' Suzanne

Enlarged tonsils, some sleep apnea in 8 year old

Sept 2006

My 8 year old daughter has enlarged tonsils, she has been seen by an otolaryngologist and told she needs to have them out. She also has some level of sleep apnea (we may have a sleep study done) but its better than it used to be when she was younger. I have heard that having enlarged tonsils removed and getting better sleep may result in weight gain and growth. But my daughter is among the tallest in her grade even though she is one of the youngest, and she is overweight (could afford to lose about 10-15lbs.) She is also, in her teachers estimate, a great student and does very well in school. Although she does seem to avoid physical activity more than her peers and doesn't run very fast or willingly. She prefers a more sedentary lifestyle. Clearly the sleep disturbance is not affecting her growth. It may be affecting her energy level. If having her tonsils removed will result in her putting on more weight, I don't know if thats a great thing for her right now. Has anyone had tonsils removed for an overweight child and the child lost weight because of the increase in the energy level? Is it better to wait this out and see if the tonsils reduce as she gets to be a young teenager? Thanks, Not sure about surgery


Both of my children have had their tonsils and adenoids removed because of very enlarged tonsils and sleep apnea. I know the struggles you face--because there has been such backlash against removing tonsils for throat infections, one faces huge amounts of conflicting information when even considering it. At times I felt like I would be completely neglectful to have them removed.

However, I'm so glad we did. My oldest child had his removed 2 weeks before he turned 4. He was sleeping OK from my end (he wasn't waking me up all night or anything), but after surgery he wakes up rested and happy, as opposed to grumpy and still tired. He was on the large side--47 lbs at almost 4. In the past year he has only gained 2 lbs. So it may have helped him not gain as much weight. He is certainly more active--though he still isn't naturally a running around kind of kid, he doesn't get as fatigued when playing. Before surgery, when he got sick his throat would close off, and he could barely breathe. He couldn't breathe through his nose at all, even when he wasn't sick.(and I know because he was still nursing then--for a year he had to nurse/stop to breathe/nurse) None of that now.

My younger child is just 2 1/2. He was starting down the same path, with even more severe sleep apnea. He was waking up 8-10 times in a 12 hour period. He was chronically tired. His breathing was very loud and raspy, and his throat was nearly closed off. He was on the small side. Since surgery, he now sleeps through the night, wakes up happy and ready to play, no longer mouth breathes, and has put on some weight.

As a child, I had the same problem! My parents chose to wait, and my tonsils did eventually shrink--my freshman year in college. I didn't have any of the other issues that my kids did, though.

I weighed that in our decision to go ahead with the surgery. When my elder child had his last cold and could barely breathe due to his airway so restricted, we went with surgery.

You should definitely do a sleep study. We tried to do it, but getting a 3 1/2 year old to wear the machine all night didn't work. In our case, I could hear the apnea, and it was very frequent (in my elder son's case, I would hear anywhere from 10-40 episodes in an HOUR) Heather


Adnoid surgery vs. steriods?

August 2006

My son is 4 and has always had a terrible snoring problem. Every day care setting he has been in has remarked about how loud he snores. And I gave up on co-sleeping because he kept me awake as well. His father suffers from obstructive sleep apnea and uses a CPAP machine when he sleeps at night, so we know the problem is probably inherited. I finally got a referral from our pediatrician to an ENT specialist (Dr. Wesman at Children's Hospital) and he took one look and told me to schedule surgery to remove the adnoids. No alternative treatments, no wait and see. We ended up changing insurance plans before I could get him scheduled and had to see a new pediatrician to get a new referral. The new Dr. listed to my experience and said that he was suprised that we had not yet tried a steriod nasal spray to shrink the adnoids. There was a possibility that they could be shrunk and my son would ''grow into them'' in time. We decided to try the spray for a few months to see how it went before we made a decision on removal. The steriod spray (a perscription Flonase) is working well and I'm inclined to stick with it. But I'm worried about the long term side effects of taking a low dose of steriods for an unforseeable time period, probably years. I'm trying to decide between the lesser of two evils- removing part of his immune system via surgery (which is always risky) or keeping him on steriods indefinetly. Has anyone faced this decision before? Any directions to websites and/or information to make my decision? Mom of the room rumbler


One other thing to consider: our son just had his tonsils and adenoids removed and he's 13 years old. Every doctor we talked with said it's more painful and requires a longer recovery time than if we'd done it when he was younger. The incisions are bigger and requires stitches. It took about 5 days before he could eat anything solid and he didn't even want ice cream. If I could do it again, I'd have scheduled the surgery for years ago Mom of an ex-Rumbler
My daughter is 4 and she has been a horrible snorer for at least a year and seems to have episodes of apnea. I had my adenoids removed at age 5. Her pediatrician actually suggested we take her to a sleep specialist prior to a surgeon - that way they could assess if she was truly having apnea, what kind of impact it was having on her physiologically, etc. So that might be something to think about prior to surgery (however, we were unable to actually DO the sleep study b/c the equipment freaked her out too much).

As for the long term effects of steroids I don't know - most kids grow out of the obstruction from adenoids and tonsils as they get bigger and their glands shrink, so he probably wouldn't have to be on the steroid indefinitely. It might be worth stopping them after 6 months and see if his symptoms return, they might not?

I don't know if that helps but it's a couple of other things to think about. It's amazing how loud such little people can snore, isn't it? Good luck judith


The surgery you are talking about (and yes, it is hereditary - it runs in my family) was extremely common in the 70's, when I had my adnoids (overly large and causing breathing obstruction) removed, along with my tonsils. I was never sick again afterwards, although I had the surgery when I was 6, although my brother continued to get strep throat and various infections. The surgery was the best thing that happened to me. I just finished a degree in holistic childcare and one of the classes, healthy sleep habits/happy child, covers this in- depth and lists enlarged adnoids as one of the top reasons for snoring. I am a holistic doctor and am vehemently against the use of steroids - especially ''indefinitely'' in an attempt to do something that can be accomplished in moments, surgically.

Your child's brain is still developing and to subject that vulnerable area of the body (nasal cavity) to steroidal chemical or any other that isn't absolutely necessary, in my opinion, is not safe or healthy. Not to mention that your child may not like having something shot up his/her nose repeatedly in the hopes that it may work. The surgery is quick, safe, and the problem will be resolved, just like that.

My personal opinion is the surgery over chemicals being put into a child's body. Yes, the anesthetic is a chemical, but I believe that the benefits of the surgery far outweigh the risks and I do not believe that is the case with steroids or chemicals. The reduction of oxygen which gets to your child's brain because of apnea-type symptoms is dangerous and you need to take action sooner than later. I am sure everything will go well and the doctor who suggested the surgery was giving his best opinion for the speediest safest solution in his judgment. Good luck anon


I posted a reply earlier stating that I believe the surgery is the best alternative of the two. I would like to point you to more information on this subject. The book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, MD has quite a bit on this subject on pages 383-393, as well as other places in the text. It would be worth a trip to the library or bookstore to review this information for yourself, I believe. Best wishes! anon
I would urge you to lose the steroids - they are really a problem used for too long - and get your son the surgery that the experts are suggesting. My child grew and gained weight, right after the surgery. I cannot even express how easy his breathing became and how much better rested my child was. Also, I don't think kids grow into adenoids. My ENT doctor told us that they start to shrink around age 14 but my child could not have lasted not sleeping for the next eight years. Do the surgery - your child will thank you for it anon
My son had his adenoids and tonsils removed when he was three and a half because his breathing was tortured and he never slept well. The possibility of long-term steroid use to deal with the problem was not offered to me. The operation was very quick, performed by Dr. Wesman, and I made the right decision. Not only is my son getting good sleep, growth, and health, but I too am relieved from worrying about his health and and from laying awake all night listening to him struggle to breath. If I had to choose between steroids, with the fear of long-term effects, and the surgery, I would choose the surgery. ramisima

Tonsillectomy for 6-year-old?

April 2006

I'd like any advice on whether or not we should have our 6 year old daughter's very large Tonsills removed over the summer. They are practically touching each other and she has a hard time breathing at night. It is very loud but doesn't seem to wake her up. We went to see Dr. Robert Wesman at Children's and he said she would definately get a better quality of sleep but he also said we could wait until she grows more and the toncils won't be so big in comparison to her throat.

I am just not sure what to do. I don't want to put her in surgery unneccessarily.

I'd love to hear from others that have had this done and hear more about the pros and cons.

Thanks! Snorer's Mom


My son had the same problem. He was having episodes of sleep apnea too. Every time he got a cold it turned into a nightmare. We were all suffering along with him. We decided to have his out the summer before he started Kindergarten. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made as a parent.

I found a lot of helpful advice on the archives, as well as from a parent who had gone through the surgery with her two boys.

Feel free to contact me if you want more info. Jeanine


My six year old daughter just had her very large tonsils and huge adenoids out in February. The surgery was performed by Dr. Wesman and done at Children's Hospital. I was VERY impressed by the staff at Children's. They did a great job preparing my daughter for what to expect and treated her very kindly on the day of the surgery. She was under general anasthesia (and I was with her when she fell asleep) for only about one hour and Dr. Wesman came out to tell us that everything was done after about only 30 minutes.

Prior to the surgery my daughter's breathing at night was so loud (snoring too) we could hear her from three rooms away, she would wake herself up frequently and was always tired during the day. Now she breathes much more easily at night - almost silently. We can't believe the difference. She says that she feels better (and the dark circles under her eyes are a thing of the past). The recuperation was difficult though - Dr. Wesman is not kidding when he says that the first week after the surgery will be painful.

When we went for our initial consult, Dr. Wesman took one look at our daughter and said that he thought that the procedure would help her given the size of her tonsils and adenoids and he did not mention about waiting until she got older to do the procedure. On the other hand, he examined our four year old son and said that we should wait and see what happens as he grows, but taking his tonsils out now would be too aggressive for the size of his tonsils/adenoids and his symptoms.

I hope this helps. If you would like to talk more about it, feel free to contact me. Maria


My son (now 11) had his adenoids and tonsils out at 3-1/2 years old. It was a terribly hard decision to make (surgery, anthesia, etc), but he did have sleep apnea. Although the problem was only his adenoids, we decided to have the tonsils out at the same time as it looked they might be trouble down the road (large for his age). Bottom-line: it was a great decision and I'm glad we did it so early! His sleep apnea immediately cleared up and he healed really quickly. We had no bad side effects at all, thankfully. Robert Wesman happened to be our doctor as well and our experience was a good one, both before, during, and after surgery.

As a side note, I read an article in the Chronicle (years ago now) saying that some researchers believe that the chronic sleepiness exhibited by some teen-agers during school is caused by undiagnosed sleep apnea. The brain waking up hundreds of times a night means little-to-no REM sleep, leading to chronic sleep deprivation. Just something else to keep an eye on re: your daughter's sleep/breathing. Good luck whatever your decision. Happy Mom


Hi, Our son had huge tonsils and adenoids. While it does not sound like your child has had a lot of ear infections, our son did early on. While the frequencey of his ear infections did decrease, he was still often congested for weeks and weeks at a time and later we found he probably had fluid in his ears more often then not, which began to impact his hearing. He also snored and sputtered a lot during the night. We did not immediately make the connection with his tonsils, but once we did we were concerned that he was not getting restful sleep. As a result of all of this, we decided to see an ENT - Dr. Wesman. He also advised removing our son's tonsils (as well as his adenoids and having tubes to help keep his ears drained) to help him better weather colds and get more restful sleep. The procedure took only about 30 minutes - and he was having more done then it sounds like you need. And, it was a total success. His hearing returned to 100% in both ears and he now sleeps like a log. Prior to his surgery, we also had read that kids getting the right amount of deep sleep is important to their growing properly and while there have not been actual studies about this (I don't think) many folks say their kids have a growth spurt after having their tonsils removed and, in essence, apena-like sleep problems resolved. Our son was already above the norm on the growth curve when he had his surgery when he was four, but he nonetheless grew 1 1/2 inches within what seemed like 4-6 weeks of the surgery. Perhaps totally unrelated, but ... I still wonder. Good luck with what you decide to do. Dr. Wesman and all the crew at Children's were great and very good with us and our son during all the pre- op and post-op visits. If you want to know more, feel free to e- mail me. sharibeth

Homeopathy for Adenoids and Tonsils?

Jan 2006

My child, age 7,has seen an ENT and was told he has enlarged adenoids and tonsils. He does snore when he sleeps on his back and is usually congested. He does not have allergies. He has never had tonsillitis or ear infections. We have considered surgery but I have mixed feelings. I would like to know if anyone has had a similiar situation and have you tried homeopathy. I also wonder if an adenoidectomy is all that he needs right now, or if I should get a sleep test also. ambivalent about surgery


Did your doctors explain that tonsils are part of the immune system, like the lymph nodes that swell with a sore throat? The tonsils contain immune cells that ''examine'' everything coming down the pike, so to speak. That your child's tonsils and adenoids are swollen suggests an overstimulated immune system. If the allergy tests were only IgE (immediate response type allergies), then IgG testing might be helpful here. Delayed responses to foods (4-96 hours after exposre) are VERY hard to identify without testing. You can check out www.yorkallergyusa.com for a finger stick test that uses ELISA technology to identify delayed response allergies (IgG). That your son is usually congested is another red flag he is reacting to something in his environment.

Homeopathy can be helpful in supporting the immune system so he develops tolerance to the provocative agent. The key point here is that tolerance is individualized (why some people get hay fever and some don't, for example). Trying to reduce your son's total load by identifying the provocative agent, AND doing homeopathy (perhaps a constitutional) could be extremely helpful for him. Nori Hudson, NC


My son had enlarged adenoids, a constant runny nose, trouble breathing, and poor sleep. He never had ear infections or tonsillitis or allergies. I tried many alternative treatments, including homeopathy, cranial massage, nutritional changes, and acupressure. Nothing worked. I finally decided on surgery, he was 3 and a half, his adenoids and tonsils were removed and he had tubes inserted. It was a very good outcome, and I'm really glad I did it. The surgery is very quick, the anesthetic is very mild, the outcome was well worth it. In my experience, the alternative treatments had no affect on the obstruction in my son's airways which were the problem and were fixable by surgery. anon
Hi, We have been told the same thing about our son, who is 4, but surgery isn't recommended until your child's age. He was having what seemed like sleep apnea, so we had one of those nighttime tests to make sure he wasn't losing oxygen, and he wasn't. We started seeing an osteopath, Dr. Kay Weinshank, and his breathing is getting easier at night. It got worse for about 4 days, but I understand that's typical of the healing process, and now it is improving. We've had only 4 or 5 visits so far and plan on continuing. We did try homeopathy for a while, but I don't think we stuck with it long enough to see lasting results. I also notice when my son is having trouble breathing in his sleep, his jaw is also tight. We talk about that during the day and at night before bed, and we are teaching him how to let his jaw go. I told Dr. Weinshank about your son and she said you can call her and talk about it. She is in Montclair. Feel free to email me if you'd like Sincerely, Susan

Tonsillectomy/Adenoidectomy for 7-year-old who constantly snores

Sept 2005

My 7 yr. old child has enlarged tonsils and adenoids, is constantly congested and snores most of the time. He has been having the snoring and congestion for many years. We just recently saw an ENT doctor who recommends the surgery. We are also going to see an allergist(in 3 months because it is hard to get appointments). My question is for those parents whose children have had the surgery - did their congestion and sleep improve a lot and have the children had a lot of illness' since. Also I would like to know if he has allergies and gets treatment will his tonsils/adenoids be reduced in size? I don't want to get the surgery if I don't have to. thanks dmr


My daughter had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy when she was 4+ years old. Prior to the surgery she had congestion & sleep apnea -- she slept fitfully, was overly tired, and her breathing patterns frightened me. (No allergies to speak of, however.) The surgery was uneventful and the only hard part was the hour or so of getting over the general anesthia, when she was disoriented and uncomfortable. And after surgery her breathing, day and night, was much improved. We had it done at Kaiser and she came home 6 hours after surgery. It was definitely worthwhile for her. Good luck with your decision. sarah
My son suffered from sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids. He really struggled each night to breathe and it was a nightmare when he got sick. After consulting with the ENT specialist Dr. Wesman we decided to go through with the surgery. I was a wreck about it, but I am so so so thankful that we did it. We totally made the right decision and I have no regrets. The results were immediate. The night after his surgery he was so quiet I had to check to make sure he was still breathing!

I think the longer you wait, the harder the experience might be. Our son was 5 and we had it done the summer before he started Kindergarten. He barely even remembers anything about it. My girlfriend, who's son had an identical diagnosis, opted to wait it out. She really regrets this decision as her son has missed a lot of school due to repeated strep and ear infections. He's even had some slight hearing loss.

There is great info archived here about this surgery. Feel free to email me if you do decide to go through with the surgery and would like more info. It helped me tremendously to talk with another mom who had gone through the surgery with two of her children. j9harmon


Ask your doctor about the possiblity of having only PART of his tonsils removed. I read somewhere that, because the tonsils are an important part of the body for immune health, that it may help to not remove them entirely, but having part of them removed can help with the congestion, etc. I think it's done with laser, so you can remove just a part of it. Read up more before you make any decisions about what the tonsils do and how they contribute to the immune system - I agree that jumping into the surgery is not a good idea. Good luck!
Our daughter, now 7, had the operation when she was 5.5 yrs old. Although she had some snoring, the motivation was recurrant throat infections, to the point where she lost interest in eating and in a year's time, did not gain weight. Her ''Cost-Co'' size tonsils would not go down. Though we were concerned about having her undergo general anasthesia, we are very glad she had the operation. She has been so much healthier. In Kindergarten, she missed 20 days of school; last year, one day. And she's gained 5-6 pounds this year. So, for us, the operation has been a big plus.

Be aware, though, when you child awakens in the recovery room they are VERY uncomfortable and sad...took about an hour to get our daughter calmed down and comfortable. After that the recoverey went as they said. dhtchk


Adenoid/Tonsil Removal for 6-y-o's Sleep Apnea

May 2005

Hello. My almost six year old son has obstructive sleep apnea, but only when he is ill. When he is not ill, he has trouble breathing in his sleep because of large adenoids. In the past year, he has been evaluated by Dr. Wessman at Children's, who recommeded adenoid removal only, twice. Now, we are at Kaiser Richmond, and no longer are able to go to Children's because of our insurance. I love Dr. Berman, our pediatrician. He referred us to Dr. Callan, ENT, at Kaiser Richmond. My son had strep when he was evaluated by Dr. Callan, who by the way was not the friendliest or warmest, but patient enough that I am not completely discounting him. He recommended TONSIL AND adenoid removal. I told him Dr. Wessman's recommendation was only for adenoid removal, but he insisted the tonsils were large. I reminded him of my sons current strep infection and suggested a follow up so that he could view his tonsils in their normal state. He still insisted that adenoid removal alone was almost always a problem and that patients would always return later for tonsil removal. I asked if an xray/CT would be taken of my son's neck and he said no. My questions are: 1. Does anyone have experience with Dr. Callan in Richmond or Oakland? 2. Has any one had only adenoid removal and NOT returned for a tonsillectomy? 3. Are xrays/ct scans a regular pre-op procedure? Thank you.


I have experience with Dr. Wesman, and with adenoid-only removal (in my son's case, due to ear infections, poor ear drainage to the point of his hearing being affected, and the necessity of a second round of ear tubes). And no, an x-ray or scan of any sort was not taken. I think when the ENTs can actually SEE the tissue involved, there's no sense in taking what, in children, can be a more invasive exam (sometimes even requiring sedation). Several things to consider:

1) Dr. Wesman, while very expert and trustworthy, is actually very conservative. He watched my son for nearly 9 months after the first tubes fell out, with some fluid lingering in his ears, before doing the second round of ear tubes (when, in his first cold of the season, his hearing went down by 25 decibels and stayed that way).

2) My son had only adenoids removed, and he's been fine (no necessity for more), but the reason for their removal had nothing to do with sleep apnea. His tonsils were never particularly swollen, nor did he have any breathing difficulties. In fact, just this week he saw the pediatrician, who lightheartedly commented on his ''almost non-existent'' tonsils.

3) I believe this is one of these situations where different professionals have different, and quite legitimate, professional opinions. Your new ENT says that ''everyone'' should get the tonsils removed; Dr. Wesman, in my experience, doesn't recommend this as often. I think that, in this case, your opinion counts too. Which would distress you more -- having surgery that is more aggressive to begin with, even if not 100% guaranteed to be necessary, or having to go back for a second round of surgery if the first time is not enough? Also, you alone know your son best. Do you feel he needs you to be more conservative, or more aggressive, to make him fully well? Karen


I saw Dr. Callan several months ago for a growth of tissue/veins under my tongue. Kind of like a varicose vein. It would swell some times adn be painful, and other times not bother me at all. He was very nice to me (adult), gave it a name, described what it was and said I could either do nothing or have it removed. He was quite specific about the removal and relatively low risk. He was patient and informative. I decided against removal since it generally doesn't bother me much. If I did decide on removal I would feel comfortable with Dr. Callan doing the surgery. Can't speak about tonsils, adenoids, or kids, but that was my adult experience with him. anon
I had my adenoids removed as a young girl -- this was in the early 70s -- for different reasons than your son. My tonsils stayed and they periodically do get swollen, including many bouts of childhood strep throat. Whenever a medical provider looks at them, they simply remark that the tonsils are doing their job, which is serving as a line of defense against infection. When the tonsils get infected and swollen, they are uncomfortable, but the tradeoff is that the infection doesn't travel down farther (like into the lungs). If there is nothing structurally wrong with your son's tonsils, consider leaving them to protect his lower respiratory system. Melissa

Adenoid removal for 3-year-old for chronic sinusitus?

Feb 2005

A pediatric ENT has just recommended adenoid removal for our 3.5- year-old because of chronic sinusitus and difficulty breathing at night. She is not medically at risk (no sleep apnea, that we know of), but is bothered by the constant congestion, runny nose, and labored breathing at night. Have you elected to have your young child's adenoids removed? If so, was it worth the surgery risk? Any advice about the pros and cons of an adenoidectomy in a preschooler would be appreciated! Liz


Hi, I had my adenoids removed as a 4-year old child. It was not traumatic (all I remember now is eating ice cream in the hospital). In general, over the almost 40 years since, I've had no problems from it. I did go through a period in my 20s when I had a lot of tonsilitis, which one doctor speculated might have been a result of not having adenoids, so you might ask your doc about that. However, I outgrew that phase after a few years. I don't know exactly why my adenoids were removed as a child, but I suspect it was similar to what you describe with your child. I also suffered from a lot of ear infections as a kid, and the adenoid removal was not particularly successful at solving that problem. Good luck with your choice. Dana
My 5 yr. old just had his adenoids and tonsils removed in Oct. 04, at CHO. Email me directly if you like and I can share more. He is still waking at night (despite assurances that he would sleep better), however, his breathing is much much easier (he was congetested and snoring all the time before) and his colds have resolved faster. Was it worth it - difficult to say... Tracy
My daughter, who is now nearly 15 had her tonsils and adenoids removed when she was 3 years old. It was a very difficult situation for us. I am a plastic surgeon and my husband an anesthesiologist, but we are both careful not to be doctors to our children and to rely on the care of their pediatricians. However Rebecca at age 3 snored terribly, had sleep apnea and foul breath from ! her chronically infected tonsils. Her pediatrician in New York felt strongly that since she had not had ear infections since her first year, that we just wait it out and see what happened when the weather warmed up. By the fall, the situation had continued. The pediatrician told us we were being overly reactionary and she would outgrow it. We were not comfortable with that, sleep apnea is not healthy, children cannot grow well when their sleep is interrupted. As a plastic surgeon, I also knew that chronic upper airway obstruction in young children effects facial growth leads to abnormal development of the shape of the middle portion of the face and the mouth. We took her to the ENT surgeon on our own who agreed with our diagnosis and felt surgery was indicated. When we went back to the pediatrician for a preoperative physical, he was furious with us telling us that physician parent! s were overly aggressive with their children. We proceeded anyway although we were wrecks on the day of the surgery, particularly as the pediatrician did not support us.

Rebecca sailed through the surgery and in the next 5 weeks, like the incredible hulk, she outgrew all of her clothes. I took her back to that pediatrician and told him to weigh her and measure her and then apologize for me for fighting us on this. She had grown 3 inches and gained 5 pounds in that 5 weeks and he did apologize. Her breath smelled like sweet baby breath again and she has done very well ever since. I don't regret our decision one bit. T and A's have been overdone historically, for any child who had more than one ear infection or strep throat in a year. Then the pendulum swung back, and no T and A's were done, no matter how sick those children were. The middle ground is that tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy have appropriate surgical indications. If you are not sure about your what to do, get a second opinion. But if the indications are there, your child will benefit from the procedure. Good luck, Elizabeth Lee, MD


Our son had his toncils and adenoids removed by Dr. Wesman at Children's Hospital for a different reason, sleep apnea. But we have had friends with a son with the same medical issue as yours. They did have the adenoids removed and are so happy to have done so. The nasal type breathing has gone away all together and he sleeps so much better. It seems that the risks of chronic sinusitis compared to removing adenoids are so much greater, especially in a small child who often can't accurately describe the symptoms of sinusitis (I am a suffer of periodic sinusitis, very painful, always requiring antibiotics...) Can't sinusitis head up into the brain? It even has affected my teeth! The dentist diagnosed my last case...Before we had our child's surgery, I was terrified of putting a child this age under anasthesia, ect.(I ! am absolutely an overprotective mother)and this is not an issue to take lightly. While it wasn't easy, I found the nurses so competent and wonderful at children's. The recovery is about one week.We had good luck scheduling first thing in the morning so our boy didn't have to feel so crazy hungry and he did have ''combative emergence'' when coming out of anathesia. But our nurse was wonderful, our child doesn't remember. In fact,he got a prize that he was looking forward to after the surgery and says it was great to have his toncils out! Plan to be in the house afterwards for several days and nights with a cranky child. We are so happy to have had the surgery. It has made a huge quality of life difference in our child..I wish we had done it a year earlier but I was not convinced and too scared to commit. Good luck! a relieved mom
We had our son's adenoids removed the summer before kindergarten (just last summer). He had had tons of colds, more or less steady congestion, and snored loudly all night long. We were pretty sure he had sleep apnea, and he may still--we need to do a sleep study. The ent at Children's recommended having both his tonsils and his adenoids removed, but on advice from both our homeopath and osteopath, who had worked on him from age 2, we elected to just do adenoids, and see what happened. We wanted to leave some part of that section of his immune process intact. Here's the pros as we see them: the recovery time was probably shorter, and the pain less intense. His sleep is much quieter-- the snoring has not disappeared entirely, but it's only intermittent and much milder. He has definetely healthier this winter--less colds, and quicker recovery. Cons for us: we feel pretty anxious about the idea that even still, we may need to ! subject him to another surgery. He had a fairly large amount of anxiety and anger about the adenoid surgery and we all dread going through that again. Other than that, we are very glad we did it, and it was worth the trouble. mom of mr. stuffy nose
If you need another reason to get the adenoidectomy, then you should have a sleep study. That is the only way you can tell if she has sleep apnea or not. Chronic sinusitis can be exhausting for your child besides giving her a overall poor feeling of health. It can affect her learning, behavior, etc. Besides sinusitis isn't a benign condition. It is a bacterial infection in your sinuses which is right next to your brain. I've seen it spead to the brain. Dr. M (pediatrician)
We had our sons adenoids and tonsils out when he was 26 months old. And ear tubes put in at the same time. The worst part of the procedure was watching his eyes roll back into his head when they put him under. Then he spent the next 5 days in agony. I must say that he is now 4 years old and a healthy boy. This winter he only came down with one really bad cold. In the past we would have had numerous and ear infections to go with it. Dr. Robert Wesman and Children's in Oakland was fantastic. While we went through it it was painful but the results have been worth it. adina
My daughter had her adenoids and tonsils removed at 3.5 and it made a huge difference. The recovery time was very quick. The first day was rough, but by the second day she was playing with her sister. The benefits were worth it. She was able to sleep better, which changed her mood, for the better. She actually had sleep apnea and was not getting a full night sleep, becuase the adenoids and tonsils were cutting off the air. She could taste food! She started eating more and trying different foods, and began to gain some weight. Before she was skinny and pale. Getting rid of the runny noses and the constant ear infections was great! No more antibiotics. She has not had an ear infection or sinus infection since. She is now 11 years old. We had it done at Kaiser in Martinez, out patient surgery. They were wonderful. Kristy
We had our 3.5 year old's adenoids removed last month. In his case, it was due to continuing ear congestion and hearing trouble. The surgery was easy, he never took any of the prescribed codiene, just a couple of doses of children's Motrin on day 4-5. His hearing is great, he's told us several times he's glad we did it. And he just got over a cold that we barely even noticed that he had. A runny nose, a mild cough, 3-4 days and that was it. So I would say that it might be a good idea, and it isn't as scary an event as it sounds. Karen
My son, who is now 5, had surgery when he was 3 and a half to remove his adenoids and tonsils, and to have ear tubes inserted. Dr. Wesman at Children's pe! rformed the surgery. The surgery was a success and it was a good thing I decided to go ahead with it. Before surgery he had sleep apnea, constant runny nose, he was tired, the quality of his life and mine were very negatively affected. The surgery changed everything for the better, he slept, I slept, I stopped spending money on alternative therapies that did nothing (diet change, homeopathy, acupressure, osteopathy), and I got to stop being worried and preoccupied. I highly recommend the procedure. ramisima

Enlarged Adenoids

August 2004

My daughter was recently diagnosed with adnenoidal hypertrophy (enlarged adenoids). She's been referred to the ENT Dr's group of Dr. Scott, Hseih and Murphy. Does anyone have any experience with this diagnosis on their children or with these Dr's. I'm wondering if you opted for surgical treatment, or waiting for them to grow out of the overgrowth. What made you decide the treatment. Any tips or advice? Thanks Concerned Mom


Hello...One of my 8 year old sons has recently been seen by Dr. Murphy. What a sweetheart! He assessed him with enlarged adnoids, but instead of jumping to surgery, he suggested a months course of treatment using a saline solution we squirted into his nose every morning. We just saw Dr. Murphy last week and the situation is much improved. My son's ears don't hurt and he is breathing better through his nose (I can tell at night that he is using his nose to breathe, not his mouth). Dr. Murphy's philosophy is to avoid surgery if it's possible. Our beloved pediatrician was actually Dr. Murphy's ped. when he was a child and inspired him to become a dr. himself. He's got a delightful manner, and spoke to my son about his symptoms like he was the patient. I highly recommend you give him a try. If surgery is not necessary, he will find other avenues. Good luck! Karen
my son has the same problem,,,you need to get him in a sleep study,,,kaiser oakland does this,,,or wait and see if by age 5 he or she out grows them. me
Our daughter is four and she has enlarged tonsils as well as adenoids. We just had her evaluated by an ENT and they are three times the normal size for kids her age. Her breathing has always been rough and she uses her mouth a lot. We also notice that when she gets a cold it lasts a week longer than it should. So the upshot of all this is that we have scheduled surgery for the removal of both at Children's in early November. Want to stay in touch to see how it goes or talk more let me know. Heather

Adenoid Removal By Dr. Wesman

May 2004

Hello. My almost five year old has sleep problems, namely frothing at the mouth and breath holding (while sleeping). Dr. Wesman as Children's recommends removal of his adenoids. He says this is a 5 minute procedure. Has anyone had any experience of this sort with Dr. Wesman, or, has anyone had a 5 minute adenoid removal/surgery? Any insight would be helpful. Thank you! m


Our 8 year old son just had his tonsils and adenoids removed by Dr. Wesman (in March of this year) and we can highly recommend him. He had some of the same problems, although not as much trouble breathing as what you described re: your child, and the first time we went to Dr. Wesman, he did not really recommend the procedure, but took a wait and see approach. He seemed to be pretty conservative about it, which to us increased his credibility. Anyway, the operation takes about 5 minutes but you will spend at least a couple of hours at the hospital that day, with your child in prep and post-op. We thought that Dr. Wesman was great!! Our son is very intense and does not handle pain well, and had some anxiety about the whole thing, but Dr. Wesman came out after the operation and explained how it went in detail, and we were allowed to stay with our son in post-op when he started to wake up. He was screaming and crying, as kids do when they come out of general anesthesia, but the whole place was very professional and sensitive to his and our needs. I almost fainted when I saw him crying on the gurney afterward and they got a bed for me too!! Two months later, our son's breathing and throat problems have disappeared. There is a painful recovery period afterward (ours was nearly 2 weeks) but it is much shorter for just adenoid removal. Don't worry; Dr. Wesman is the best. Karen hr> My son had his adenoids out when he was 6. Dr. Wesman was the surgeon. I was very impressed with the whole procedure - the nurses before hand were wonderful and gentle, and the doctor was great. All together, it was probably a half hour, with the sedation before. They have a waiting room with drinks and snacks, and they came to get us as soon as he was in recovery. The recovery process was hard to see - as he came out of the aenesthesia, he was screaming and thrashing, but he doesn't remember that at all. My son had his tonsils out at the same time, so his recovery included sore throat and popsicles, but he was fine within a few days. Good luck! Molly hr> My soon to be 17 year old son who is developmentally around 12 had a procedure (nasal biopsy) done by Dr. Wesman. I asked him if he remembered Dr. Wesman and he answered, ''yes.'' I then asked him what he thought of him. He said that Dr. Wesman is ''confident, laid back and he knows what he is doing.'' If you knew my son, you'd recognize that as a high complement. Sue hr> My son had ear tubes put in by Dr. Wesman (another 5 minute surgery). He is an extremely experienced and competent person -- apparently has done over 5,000 surgeries of this type (and I'm guessing similar stats hold for adenoid surgery). Everything happened on time and exactly as scheduled, and my son had no difficulties after. Two things to be aware of. First, Dr. Wesman is not a ''warm and fuzzy'' sort of person. He relates OK to kids (talks to them on their level), and my son actually likes him a lot, but he is very brisk and matter of fact, and takes no extra time with you or your child. Second, the worst thing about these kinds of 5-minute surgeries is the kids waking up afterward. They feel very weird from the anesthesia -- my son cried inconsolably for about 20 minutes, even though the pain was supposed to be minor -- they assured me that it was due to feeling nauseated and spinny-headed and not being able to cope. The nursing staff there was wonderful with him -- he begged for a ''dinosaur'' (our pediatrician's method of consoling little boys after shots), and they managed to find a strange stuffed animal -- his ''mongoose'' which he has loved dearly ever since. Karen hr> Dr. Wesman removed my son's adenoids and tonsils last year when he was 3 and a half. It was one of the best decisions I ever made for my son. He had always had a hard time breathing, had sleep apnea, runny nose - I tried all kinds of alternative remedies and healers, and all kinds of different Western medicine remedies. Nothing worked, his adenoids were so enlarged he just couldn't breathe through his nose. The surgery was quick, his recovery was routine (one full week at home), Dr. Wesman is very competent and very experienced, and I strongly recommend that you go through with it. You and your son deserve a good night's sleep. adina hr> My son had his adenoids removed by Dr. Wesman about 4 years ago. And yes, it is possible to have a 5 minute operation. We had gotten into the waiting room set our stuff down and just when I was about to go find coffee, before I left the room, Dr. Wesman came out and was done. I thought he wanted to talk to us before he started, but he was actually done!!! The recovery was quick. We took our son home by about 1:30pm, his operation was at 7:30am. He was up and about the next day was wasn't 100% for about 3 days. It truly is an easy and quick procedure. Dr. Wesman is really great with the kids too! Good luck! Janeen

Want to get a second opinion about tonsillectomy

May 2004

Hi. Our 5-1/2 yr old has cronically enlarged tonsils. We've seen Dr. Wesman and he's advised that she's a ''good'' candidate for having them removed --i.e. not ''must remove them'' or ''don't bother.'' We'd like to get a second opinion. Specifically, we'd like to see another pediatric ENT doc, possibly associated with UCSF, who is up on all the latest research re. pros and cons, other treatment options and also methods for removal. We'd read some web info that indicates there are some surgery methods that result in a faster recovery rate than the usual ''5-7 days.'' Many thanks. Dana


I know that I am not addressing your request for the name of another pediatric ENT, but would like to note, as a parent of a child who had a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy and nasal wash done by Dr. Wesman in March 2004, his description of your child as a ''good candidate'' may mean that your child really should have the operation. I give this phrase that interpretation because in the two visits our son made to Dr. Wesman before the operation, he stressed that he is conservative about assessing candidates for surgery. At the first visit, he suggested that we take a wait and see approach (wait and see if more symptoms necessitating surgery developed); at the second visit, several months later, when there WERE additional symptoms, he still didn't outright recommend the surgery--we asked for it, because we had enough information from other postings and conversations with other parents to convince us that our son's troubles-- difficulty breathing while asleep, repeated rhinitis, strep throat, and hoarsness -- would be reduced, if not completely eliminated, by his having the surgery. And, while it took almost 2 weeks for it all to heal, with the first week being difficult for the child, our child (who is very intense and hates pain) he handled it remarkably well. We kept him on over- the-counter Motrin for the whole healing period and never even had to use the prescription strength pain reliever that causes nausea. In short, maybe its a semantic issue with Dr. Wesman's assessment--he never even said that our son was a ''good candidate'' for the surgery, but in hindsight, it was clearly the right thing to do. I would suggest you read the archives' parents' evaluations of Dr. Wesman as well; we thought he was excellent. Karen

Big Tonsils

Feb 2004

I'd like to hear from other parents w/ kids who have big tonsils. My son has them and they seem to be causing the usual symptoms: snoring, mouth breathing and some episodes of sleep apnea (when he has a cold, mainly). The ENT specialist said it's our call whether we want to do the surgery or wait to see if he grows out of it. He also said he would do the surgery if it were his son but that is because he does the procedures all the time. My husband is inclined to wait; I am leaning toward doing the surgery. The archived posts about the surgery were very helpful, but I'd like to hear from the those who waited. Confused


There is a procedure called somnoplasty (www.somnoplasty.com) that you should investigate. It is a minimally invasive procedure used to shrink tissues such as tonsils that are causing respiratory problems. (They were a PR client of mine several years back.) I don't know if the procedure is approved for children yet, but it's definitely something you should look into.
Hi, our 3 year old daughter just had her tonsils and adenoids taken out last fall at Childrens Hospital (Dr. Westman, the best guy around for this). After years of snoring so loud you could hear her through the house, complications from simple colds, and too many strep infections, we finally asked for a referral to Westman.&! nbsp; He took one look at her and said her tonsils were easily in the top 1%. They can do sleep testing, if you're not sure, but based on the size alone and watching her, he was sure she was suffering from sleep dep. The surgery went smoothly, a week at home after is typical. Dr. Westman himself took my couple of calls with questions during that period. She has slept like a churchmouse (so quietly!) and has benefited tremendously from our decision to take the leap. Another child at our preschool had the same surgery done at 3 years (with Westman) and his mother reported similar relief. Hope this helps. Anon
We had our younger son's tonsils and adenoids removed at age 6, and we should have done it at age 2. Your son's situation sounds a bit different though, but just in case it's relevant: Our son had continual ear infections from infancy, and was never off antibiotics. We belonged to an HMO for his first 5 years, and we regularly hauled him into urgent care on weekends when the HMO office was closed, where we'd see the same retired pediatrician who would shake his head, and tell us that our kid needed a T&A in the worst way. But our HMO would not approve it. Our son developed occasional sleep apnea also, and I spent many nights with him; we've been told that his chest is still somewhat sunken from his struggles to breathe during those years. We changed insurance, and our new pediatrician approved the surgery on the first visit - sleep apnea is a potentially fatal disorder and a very serious matter. When he had the surgery, he developed complications because the tonsils and adenoids were so large and so scarred - the whole scene was a mess. The surgery wasn't a miracle - he continue to have allergies and ! fairly frequent colds. But he rarely needed antibiotics after the surgery, and had no further problems with sleep apnea. It was absolutely the right thing to do. Good luck with your decision! mgs
Dear Big tonsils; I have twin boys whose tonsils are so big that new doctors gasp when looking into their mouths for the first time! All of their doctors have said, thankfully, to leave them alone as long as the tonsils aren't problematic. My boys never had ear infections and the like. They have been amazingly healthy and illness free. One doctor believed that their immune systems would only be compromised by the surgery. (And don't forget the risks of any surgery, especially when it's not absolutely necessary) Yes, my boys are shockingly loud snorers at times but other than that, it just hasn't been a big deal. My own tonsils were taken out when I was only 18 months old due to chronic tonsilitis. To this day, my throat is the weak link in my body - lots of throat issues. Maybe if I had my tonsils... Wanda
Consider a consult on a tonsillectomy. There's a doc at Childrens' Hospital who does a lot of them. My child had tonsils that got so big they were touching each other at the back of her throat. She couldn't taste a thing, and had constant ear infections.

We avoided a tonsillectomy until my daughter was 8 and had a cold, and I found myself on the phone with the doctor, holding the phone so she could tell if my daughter's raspy breathing was OK, or if we should go to the Emergency Room. We went for the consult and had her tonsils out 3 weeks later. It was hard to do, but good for my child, in the long run. She had a bad sore throat for 2 weeks, then was fine.

We tried antibiotics and homeopathy to no avail. Once the tonsils were out, her long-moribund taste began to revive, and her health improved tremendously. We waited too long. You might consider an earlier intervention.

There's a sound-based procedure for removing tonsils that you might try for. Not sure if it's covered by insurance. merry


I can't speak from a parents point of view, but rather from the partner of someone who didn't have the procedure done as a child. My exboyfriends parents were very anti-surgery/anti- physician kind of hippies so unless a leg was broken you didn't go to the doctor. He had very large tonisils at a young age which eventually led to severe snoring and sleep apnea (loss of oxygen during sleep). The sleep apnea resulting in overeating and obesity due to sleep deprivation and very low energy. He couldn't stay awake at the movies in his 20's or even in front of a TV program. Finally in his early 30's I was able to convince my partner to get his tonsils out - something that should have been done years before. He dropped 100 lbs., the snoring has subsided significantly (I'm grateful for that), he has a great deal more energy and can finally stay awake through a movie. He, and many others, wish they could have had them out while they were young. It would have been healthier for him to have had them out in his tweens. If you are still uncertain I suggest you get another ENT opinion Relieved to have them out
Hi, I'm interested in the responses as well. We are in a similiar situation. Plus we have noticed that our child's chest is dipping in from the difficulty breathing at night (our guess). Our ENT said ''whatever you want'' to us too. Doesn't help does it? dori
I do not know your insurance, but I would schedule a consultation with Bernard Drury, M.D.--he has offices in Oakland and Orinda and is considered by my physician-spouse, colleagues, and me the finest otolaryngologist in the Bay area. As well as being a gifted surgeon and diagnostician, he has a lovely! bedside manner. Most importantly, he is not a surgical zealot! I did not read the original post, sorry, but know that there are multiple criterion for having a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, one or both. Whether a child's growth is being stunted, whether or not sleep apnea is happening, whether the tonsils are'' kissing,'' habitually or just during an infectious stage, 4-6 ear infection occurences/yearly, 4-6 bouts of tonsilitis, annually, assymetry in tonsil size, and the list goes on and on. There is the argument to be made that tonsils are a vital part of the immune system, but, yet, ''bad'' tonsils can serve to damage immunity and growth. As well, sometimes the adenoids are the culprit, and, sometimes, adenoids are the culprit but should not come out because a child might have a sub-mucosal cleft palette and forever talk nasallly and strangely if the adenoids were to be removed; sometimes enough structure can be left so as not to impair speech.

I know nothing about the quality of your otolaryngologist, but your kid deserves to be seen by someone superlative. Bernard Drury is FABULOUS!! Good luck to you!

One more item of note: my little guy (4 years old) has Class III tonsils and does not need a tonsillectomy--his snoring and ear infections alerted us to the possibility that he might; in prescribing a decongestant and saline nasal spray, Dr. Drury eliminated my son Wants her own tonsils back but is not! anti-tonsillectomy


My son had his giant tonsils removed when he was almost 4. The tonsils were so big that we have pictures of him laughing with the tonsils shining like big marbles in the back of his mouth. They seemed to block his breathing at times at night. Our own pediatrician was not concerned, but one of his partners took one look and asked if we had considered having them removed. We discussed it further with our own pediatrician and the surgeon and decided to do it. Our son was VERY anxious about it (he was afraid the knife wou! ld hurt), but Children's Hospital handled the whole thing very well, with pre-op visits, a social worker, a little demerol to calm him down right before the procedure, etc. It took him about a week to recover from the sore throat, and since then, he has been MUCH healthier. In contrast, his older sister, whose tonsils never came out, was plagued for years with strep throat, asthma, a couple of bouts of pneumonia (until we started annual flu vaccines). no regrets with tonsillectomy

Considering having tonsils out for sleep apnea

Jan 1999

Hi everybody,
My 5 year old son was diagnosed as having sleep apnea and his pediatrician as well as the specialist we were referred to, said that having his adenoids and tonsils removed will very likely be beneficial for him. My husband and I are very inclined to have the surgery done, since he doesn't sleep and eat well and snores a lot. However I would appreciate hearing from other peoples' experience on the subject and comments about the doctor that we were referred to. The specialist's name is Dr. Wesman. Ana


(see also Parents' accounts of kids' Tonsils Surgery

My son, Benjamin, developed breathing problems and sleep apnea when he was a toddler--in fact, they postponed the operation on his tonsils and adenoids until he was 2 years old. Having the operation made a tremendous difference in Benjamin (after he recovered, of course!): he was more alert during the day, he started eating better and growing again (he had been on a growth plateau for a while), and his energy level went up. A side benefit was that we could no longer hear him sleeping from the other room! Sleep apnea is nothing to fool around with, and I've never been sorry we subjected him to the operation. I stayed overnight at the Children's Hospital with him and we did what we could with books and talking to prepare him for the experience. Stock up on ice cream! Tamra


My son had large tonsils and adenoids also when he was small (he didn't have x-rays to prove it though?). His snores could be heard throughout the house when he was between 2 -4.5. The doctors talked about possible surgery and he almost went in for a sleep test to see if he actually had apnea. (He didn't struggle/toss & turn as much as it seems your son does though.) But just before the test date he seemed to start sleeping better. I decided to hold off on both surgery and the overnight test because the specialist (at Kaiser) said something like most kids "grow into" their tonsil and adenoid size by about 5 years old. And that seems to be what happened. His snores (he also "moaned" loadly in his sleep) gradually got quieter and got quieter and then almost disappeared by 5 yrs. old. Now at 11 yrs. he sleeps normally and pretty quietly.

7-year-old may need tonsils out

Nov 2001

My seven-year-old son has recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, which his pediatrician says may be caused by his tonsils, which appear to be large and may be blocking his airway when he lies down. While we are waiting for our appointment with the E,N,T specialist, I'd appreciate hearing from anyone else who may have been through this or know about it. I expect the recommendation may be to have his tonsils removed (and maybe also the adenoids). I'd hate to do that because he's been really very healthy so far and I'd hate for him to lose that "germ filter", but I would do it because it's necessary so he can get a solid night's sleep. Can anyone offer information, or refer me to websites with info on treatment options? Thanks in advance.


I have a friend who had sleep apnea for quite a while as an adult. In his case, it eventually led to epilepsy. The brain becomes starved for oxygen, and it can cause all sort of negative effects. I definitely would recommend checking this out in your decision-making process. I'm sure there's some more current information that can shed light on the odds of this particular complication, and help you to decide which path is right for you and your son. Good luck! Dawn
I had a child with sleep apnea from tonsils and adenoids. She had alot of ear infections in her first year, which resolved by the time she was two., but the enlarged tonsils continued. She was a horrible snorer, and we would hear her stop breathing in the middle of the night (this is the sleep apnea part). Her breath also smelled awful since she had these chronically infected tonsils right at the back of her mouth. At 3, she was tiny, down to the 10th percentile for weight and 30th for height.

I should add at this point, that I am a plastic surgeon and my husband is an anesthesiologist. We knew what sleep apnea was. Our pediatrician on the other hand, thought we were over reacting. We waited for the winter to end, as he asked, and the snoring continued through the summer and into the fall. We pushed for the surgery even though the pediatrician did not agree. SHE GAINED 5 LBS AND GREW 3 INCHES in 5 weeks after the procedure, which often happens when sleep apnea is resolved.

Children do the majority of the growing during sleep and when sleep apnea is present, they cannot rest and do not grow well. Also, facial growth can be affected by chronic airway obstruction. If your child sleeps with his head thrown back and mouth wide open, the middle portion of the face develops differently.

Go to the ENT and trust what he says. The surgery in young children is alot easier than when they get older. If he has chronically infected and enlarged tonsils, they are not working to provide immunity from infection.
Good luck, Elizabeth


Parents' accounts of kids' Tonsils Sugery

Sept 1999

Our pedatric ENT has recommended surgery to remove my 2yr. old son's tonsils and adenoids due to obstructed breathing (tonsils 3x larger, adenoids 2.5x larger than normal). He does wake up frequently at night trying to get a breath, so I am hoping he will sleep better after the surgery. There's still part of me that is hesitating to get the surgery done, because the docs say that children may (or may not) grow out of this condition. They also say he won't suffocate from it, but probably won't sleep as soundly as he could. I would just like to hear from others who have had their child's tonsils out at this age to get an idea of what the recovery period is like from this type of surgery and what I can do to help him as much as I can. P.S. Thanks to those of you who responded to my "Sleep Apnea" question before he was diagnosed.


My son had his enlarged tonsils and adanoids out mid year in Kindergarten (he was 6 1/2). His sleep has changed dramatically (he doesn't seem to need as much) and his appetite too...he's gained 11 lbs and is now in the 90th percentile for weight (always before he was in the 50th). His recovery time was about a week total...the first day was the worst, as he is picky about taking medicines, and he didn't want to take anything, so the pain was pretty bad. Within a couple of days, though, he was fine. I never saw a person eat so many popsicles! Molly
My 5 yr. old had his tonsils out at 3 yrs. of age. After the surgery the Dr. said his tonsils were so scarred that they reminded him of an adults. He also had his adenoids out, and tubes put in his ears. All this to a child who never complained about a sore throat, and only had 2 ear infections, and those as a baby. He did suffer from sleep apnea though. The only difference was that they wouldn't do the surgery until he turned 3. I have to say that it was well worth it though. I had to go in at night to check to make sure that he was breathing, because it was so quiet, Prior to the surgery, I was always able to hear him snoring in my bedroom. The first few days after the surgery, you will need love, patience, and understanding. Lots of popsicles too. My son lived on them for 2 days. That and childrens tylenol. Good luck.
My son when he was two had really gaspy night breathing/snoring and after an X-ray it was determined that he had very large tonsils/adnenoids. We saw Dr. Wessman at Oakland's Children's hospital and felt he did a great job explaining the procedure. The stafff in the outpatient wing where the surgery is performed were all great and really had a way with small kids. We had the first surgery of the day at 7am and left the recovery room by 11am. The surgery itself lasted 10 minutes. I think recovery for our son was a bit longer because he was at the end of a cold and he was too young to really communicate just how much his throat hurt. We kept him home for about a week and it was probably two weeks till he was back to his same old self---except there is no more snoring and no more gasping in his sleep. Judi
Our son had his tonsils removed in an out-patient visit to Children's Hospital in 1995, when he was not quite 4 years old (I'm pretty sure it was Dr. Wesman, I can't remember for sure). He had huge tonsils (You can see them in pictures from that period if he is laughing with his mouth is open). He also had sleep apnia and snored incredibly loudly. The experience was not one I would put a child through unnecessarily, but I think he definitely benefited from it, and I was very satisfied with the treatment at Children's Hospital.

He was very articulate and very nervous about the procedure. When we first went to see the doctor, my son explained that he really didn't want to have his tonsils out because he was afraid the knife would hurt. The doctor's jaw dropped--I don't think he was used to such discussions with 3-year-olds. Bribes of icecream whenever he wanted did not help, but he did feel better when he realized he could skip eating broccoli for a week. They had a social worker who met with him before hand, showed us what would happen, and answered his questions. By then, our son had figured out that not only was he free of broccoli, but that his older sister would still have to eat it! The day of the operation, they gave him demoral before taking him off. That calmed him down considerably. Later on, when he was "missing" his tonsils, we called the social worker again, so he could ask what happened to them. The social worker was very good with him, helpful to us, and also amazed that a 3 year old was concerned with these matters.

IT took him about a week to fully recover from the surgery. A sadder looking person you had never seen for the first two days, but then his old bouncy self returned. Since then, the snoring and sleep apnia are gone (but the pattern of wakefulness at night has remained to this day). Cynthia


I had my tonsils out at age 2 (in 1964 when it was fashionable to do this). I never missed them, though I *do* remember being in the hospital, which indicates it was not a completely trival experience. My stepdaughter has had many rounds of strep, and her orthodontist says that some of her problems may be due to "tongue-thrust" resulting from too-large tonsils. I have considered having them removed, but it seems like such a dramatic thing to do at this point that I am reluctant. Seems to me that earlier would have been better. Good luck with your decision! Dawn
I had them out when I was 11, and it really wasn't bad! All the ice cream and attention and not going to school during recovery made it sort of an adventure. Just in case people were worrying that 11 might be too old :-) Heather
Our daughter's pediatrician recommended that we see Dr. Wesman about having her HUGE tonsils removed. Callie was 5 and she was always breathing very loudly and with much effort as she slept.

The staff at Children's were just wonderful. The day before they explained what was to happen at just the right information level for Callie. She wanted to know how they removed the tonsils, but forgot to ask. (The staff said that the 5 year olds ask but don't really want to know. The eight year olds want to know and some want to keep them) She was well prepared and ready when we went in for the surgery the next morning which took 10-15 minutes (which seemed like hours for my husband and me!). We had to remain in the surgery center for 2 hours after she came out, to allow her to come out of the anesthesia as well as watch for any unusual bleeding.

Upon bringing her home, she was quite hungry, as she couldn't have breakfast, and had some soup. The pain killer started to wear off around dinner time, and she was able to swallow the syrup (I think it had codeine in it), but after that she survived the pain with Tylenol. She only needed it for two days. Two days after surgery she wanted to go back to school (we went for a visit) and even ate the nacho chip snack. After 5 days she was back in school for a few hours and after a week she was pretty much back to normal.

As for appetite and growth, it's hard to tell if it has made a difference, but Callie is definitely breathing at night with much less effort which allows US to sleep better at night. We had just gotten used to it over the years, but were amazed at how she didn't have to work so hard at breathing after the operation. Cary and Denise


My 6 year old daughter, Heather, had her tonsils out over these past holidays. The experience with Dr. Wesman and Children's Surgery Center was wonderful and thankfully Heather had no complications. The recovery for her was not so easy though. It was 6 nights of sleeping only 2-3 hours at a time, screaming with pain. Her stomach couldn't handle the tylenol with codiene and the plain tylenol wasn't as effective. For her, day six was the worst of all. I found out one thing after the fact, which is why I write this message: If your child (like mine) has a low pain threshold, request the Tylenol with codeine in suppository form. We were not told it was available until I asked after the fact. It was very hard for my daughter to swallow even the plain Tylenol. The suppositories would have made life easier. Jane Jane
2001

My son is eleven and just had his tonsils removed. From the time he was a baby, he had many many ear infections. Our ENT put in tubes a couple of times and removed his adenoids. We suffered through years and years of ear infections, doctor visits and antibiotics. When I asked for tonsil removal I was told that it is not recommend for ear infections, even though they said he had large tonsils. My son snored loudly, complained of being tired all the time and just didn't feel well. He was having throat infections, fluid in his ears and his glands seemed to always be swollen. He was missing alot of school. Finally, a new ENT agreed to remove his tonsils. She said he had sleep apnea that was caused by these very large tonsils. That's why he'd been tired even after a full night's sleep. She said he won the prize for the largest tonsils. Some prize! Now my son is sleeping peacefully and no longer snores. He feels well rested and actually has energy! If someone had done this surgery for us years ago, it would have saved me alot of missed work, time and money spent on doctors appointments and medication, not to mention all the suffering my son was going through. I want to mention a complication from the surgery. Two nights after the surgery my son coughed up some blood clots. We called the after hours emergency number and we were told to have him do some cold water rinses until the bleeding stopped. The doctor on call (not our ENT) assured us once we had the bleeding stopped that he would be fine. He said it was not likely to reoccur. We didn't want to over react, so we did what this doctor recommended. We watched him for about an hour to make sure there was no more bleeding, then we let him go back to sleep. I slept in the same room with him. While he was sleeping the bleeding apparently began again and drained into his stomach. Several hours later he woke up vomiting blood and gagging, repeatedly. In the emergency room, they removed a very large clot and put some silver nitrate on the area to stop the bleeding. They told us the scab had came off prematurely. (I wonder if the surgery had been done when he was younger, before the tonsils got to be so huge if this would have been as likely to happen?) Anyway, I want other parents to know they should be very cautious if they see ANY bleeding. Knowing what I know now, I would have taken him to the ER when he had the first bleed. This could have been life threatening. It's an experience I won't soon forgot. The Beisel's


Enlarged tonsils in 4 1/2 year old

July 2001

Our 4 1/2 year old son has always had large tonsils. At a recent doctor's visit where he was diagnosed with strep for the tird time in 2 years, the doctor suggested an ENT consult regarding having them removed. He has been generally healthy but does seem to have allergies. Any knowledge out there about the current thoughts on tonsils and there removal? Thanks Sue


One of my three children has always had enlarged tonsils (she seems relatively immune to strep for some reason). She has some difficulty swallowing bulky items (e.g. only likes soft, mushy stuff), always has a nasaly talk, then went through a period of having a hair in her mouth that caused speech problems, etc. We had already had her tested for allergies several years before (negative). We finally got referred to an ENT and after a few minutes, Dr. Wesman said that her tonsils are enlarged, but he took one look up her nose and he was very clear that it looked like allergies to him. The allergist had warned me that although her test was negative several years ago, at some point, the test may be positive. And I've noticed recently that her allergies were cycling with mine (spring hay fever is over for now.) So, if your insurance will pay for it, an ENT consult might be useful information - it's steering us in a clear direction after years of wondering about the enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Good luck. Tom
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