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Large Tonsils in Kids

author image Sarah Moore
Sarah Moore has been a writer, editor and blogger since 2006. She holds a master's degree in journalism.
Large Tonsils in Kids
Doctor using a tongue depressor to look at young patient's tonsils. Photo Credit Jovanmandic/iStock/Getty Images

The tonsillectomy is one of the most commonly prescribed surgeries in children, and while doctors recognize that the tonsils do serve an important immune system purpose, they still frequently recommend that tonsils be removed. While there are many reasons that your child might need her tonsils taken out, size is often not a cause for concern.

Truth About Tonsils

Tonsils change size as we go through life. As babies and as adults, we have relatively small, unnoticeable tonsils. However, our tonsils get larger between the ages of 2 and 5. In children this age, the tonsils may even be large enough to touch one another. Although this may seem alarming, it is not necessarily a problem unless other issues present. However, note that when tonsils are particularly large, they may obstruct airways or cause problems swallowing or sleeping.

Tonsil Troubles

Distinguishing developmentally normal large tonsils from those that are infected or otherwise troubled is an important skill, especially in parents whose children are between the ages of 2 and 5 years. If you think there may be a problem, look for tonsil redness, a white or yellow coating or blisters on the throat. Watch for hoarseness or difficulty breathing in your child, and check for swollen glands, fevers, chills, loss of appetite or abnormally bad breath. Ask your children to describe their symptoms: tummy troubles, headache or throat pain are all bad signs.

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Reasons For Tonsillectomies

Doctors may recommend tonsillectomies for several reasons. If your child has tonsillitis that does not respond to care or antibiotics, your doctor may tell you to set up a tonsillectomy. If your child repeatedly gets tonsillitis, even if it goes away, this may be another reason to get the tonsils out for good. If your child has many recurrent sore throats, this may be another reason. Or, if airway or sleeping troubles become too severe, this may also incur a doctor’s recommendation for tonsillectomy.

Healthy Tonsils

Like wisdom teeth, many people do get their tonsils out. However, unlike wisdom teeth, most people don’t need to, and there are precautions you can take to keep your child’s tonsils healthy. Always have your children wash their hands when they come home from school, finish eating, sneeze or cough. This, along with preventing sharing of plates, cups or utensils between kids, will keep them from getting tonsillitis from somewhere else. Don’t kiss your child if you have tonsillitis, or allow anyone else who has it (or is otherwise sick) to kiss them.

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