Tonsils Serve a Purpose

I am all for sharing valuable information with parents. We all know that raising kids is not an easy job, and a little help or advice is often useful to us parents. There is nothing worse than having a sick child and not knowing how to help him or her.

I am disturbed by an article, which ran on the front page of the Modesto Bee today. The article titled, "When Tonsils Cause Trouble," by Ken Carlson doesn’t exactly give all the facts. The author does a good job of connecting tonsillitis to sleep apnea and the problems children can have sleeping, when the tonsils become enlarged.

However, Carlson missed the boat when he made this statement:

It was common to remove tonsils and adenoids in children a few decades ago. But doctors shied away from the practice because the clumps of tissue are part of the immune system.

Some experts believe the pendulum shift caused primary care doctors to disregard the tonsils. "Unfortunately, it does not get enough attention," Khan said.

Those "clumps of tissue" are much more than that.

My son has been suffering with tonsillitis for the past few weeks. We have family members who are recommending a tonsillectomy. When I asked my physician about removing the enlarged tonsils, I learned something I had not known before.

She said the tonsils are part of our lymph node system and work as a filter for toxins that enter the body. Once the tonsils are removed those toxins must go somewhere, and they will find other avenues to explore. She went on to explain that many women who have had their tonsils removed as children, end up having hysterectomies later in life.

This is exactly what happened to me.

Our doctor is working to cure the root of the problem, instead of addressing the symptoms, which can provide a quick fix (like removing the tonsils) but can cause serious health issues later in life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers guidance to parents. It recommends a tonsillectomy if a child has four tonsil infections in a year or a proven case of sleep apnea. The procedure isn’t as routine as widely assumed: Recovery is painful, and there’s a 10 percent chance of post-surgery hemorrhage.

Parents are often so desperate to help their child get well that they do not consider the long-term risks. Not only can surgery lead to "post-surgery hemorrhage," but also hospitals are a breeding ground for all sorts of infectious diseases, such as staph infections. A hospital stay can expose a child to other complications that are down-played by many physicians.

I’m not saying there are never times when surgery is warranted, what I am saying is parents need explore their options and not jump on the first solution offered. A tonsillectomy is not always the best solution.