My Son’s Tonsillectomy

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TonsillectomyMy son recently had his tonsils and adenoids removed, and for us, it’s been nothing but positives. And while a tonsillectomy is common and routine, I wish I understood more of the signs that removing his tonsils would benefit him in several ways.

It’s not just about tonsilitis or strep throat.

My son never had tonsilitis and has had strep throat just once, so that was never a concern. While those are typical signs for most, what triggered a conversation with our pediatrician was that some foods would get stuck in the back of his throat. He wasn’t exactly choking, but the two biggest culprits were popcorn and cheese, where the food would stick to his tonsils until he could get it dislodged.

When we first met with the ENT, he asked a few questions:

  1. Does he snore? I hadn’t thought about it much because when I thought of snoring, I thought of a loud, old man snore. Not my cute little 1st grader. It hadn’t even occurred to me that while my daughter sleeps silently, he has almost always had a soft little snore.
  2. Does he wake up during the night? Yes, yes, he does. But as much as I love the kid, he had always been a horrible sleeper. I thought this was just our normal, but we learned that perhaps it could be related to his tonsils, where he’s experiencing sleep apnea and waking during the night.
  3. Does he have trouble concentrating? This one I couldn’t answer with certainty. I mean, he was six when we first talked to the ENT. And we’d recently been doing the back and forth between virtual learning and school. But, if you have a child with some concentration issues, it’s important to know tonsils could be related.

The Tonsillectomy Procedure

We arrived at the surgery center around 8 am, and we were home by noon. He couldn’t eat or drink after midnight, but luckily, they schedule kids first thing in the morning, so it was not an issue. He put on a gown, some fuzzy socks, and we talked with a nurse and then the doctor. He was back in surgery for his tonsillectomy for about 30 minutes, and while he was drowsy, he woke up quickly.

His only rule after surgery was he had to eat a popsicle, and then we were discharged. It was about as easy as surgery could be. 

Recovery

Of course, kids recover more quickly from a tonsillectomy than adults. This was the main driver for us wanting to get it done and taken care of right away. The day before his surgery, I let him pick out all the soft things he wanted – ice cream, popsicles, Jell-O, soup, etc. But, literally that evening he wanted a cheeseburger!

There are risks for infection and bleeding, but the doctors told us the key was to drink a lot of water. We even woke him up in the middle of the night the first few nights to drink water. Besides that, he didn’t need more than a little Tylenol and some extra cuddles on the couch.

Doctors say it takes a week or two to start feeling fully covered, which was true in our case. He was back in school after 6 days, but it took about two weeks before he said he felt fully healed.

In retrospect, I wish I had asked a few more questions and given our pediatrician a bit more insight into my son’s occasional swallowing issues. But, we got it figured out and have seen a big improvement in sleeping, snoring, (or lack thereof), and eating sticky or dry foods since the tonsillectomy.

If you are experiencing any of the same symptoms we did, please talk to your doctor. There are many great resources here in Indianapolis, including ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors at Riley Children’s Health or Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.

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