Toddlers and Tonsils

Hi guys.

Another parenting type question. We brought the boy (2.9 months old) to see an ENT doctor per the suggestion of our speech therapist. The doc did what I consider to be a fairly perfunctory review and told us that the boy’s tonsils are a 3 out of the 4 scale. Prior to this he has never had any throat issues and hasn’t have very many ear infections. The doc suggested surgery in the next few weeks. Apparently this will help him breathe better and eventually speak better too.

All that aside, has anyone had any experience of this sort of surgery on a toddler? I’m in a mess with worry even though I know it’s a relatively minor surgery.

Thoughts, advice and experiences most appreciated.


IANAD, but IMHO a tonsillectomy is not necessarily all that minor. I’d look for a second opinion if I were in your situation.

ANY general anesthesia has potential complications; I’d venture that it is more risky on an infant. What is a 3-month-old going to a speech therapist for? Or did you mean 2.9 YEARS?

Are the tonsils infected? If so, has an antibiotic been tried?

I had my tonsils out as a teenager, under local anesthetic and it was a horrid experience.

Tonsil grading is pretty simple and straightforward (note: direct PDF link).

As the last poster noted, I’m guessing your little one is almost 3 years old. If so, is the question from the Speech folks based on nasal speech patterns? Without a history of ear infections, does he have repeated sore throats? Significant snoring issues?

My daughter (now almost 12) had her tonsils out about a month shy of her fourth birthday. I always like to mention her case in tonsil conversations (and doesn’t that just make you wish you hung out with me!) because she had none of the classic symptoms described above. The ENT described her tonsils as pendulous, meaning they hung down into her throat. She didn’t have infections, she talked fine, and she didn’t snore because when she lay down they were flat against her throat.

What the poor thing couldn’t do was eat. She was a very slow eater, and she used to do this funny thing where she’d store food in her cheeks like a chipmunk. She was underweight, but not drastically so. It was only after the pediatrician identified enlarged tonsils and the ENT identified the funny shape that we figured out that swallowing was difficult for her. After he took them out the surgeon reported that they were “pulpy” and unquestionably removal was the right call.

As for the surgery and recovery, it wasn’t too bad at her age, but it was very smelly: the wet scabs that form over the wound give the kid the most god-awful tomb breath for a few days, but that’s normal. We were also warned by a anaesthesiologist friend to be extremely cautious and conservative when reintroducing solid foods, as the bleeding that can occur if those scabs are disturbed is scary and dangerous. I have heard many times over that the longer you wait the more difficult the procedure is for the patient, and that recovery for adolescents and adults is long and painful.

Hope this helps!

Thank you for all of the responses.

He’s almost three so my apologies for the confusion.

No history of a sore throat, ever in fact. I’ve never heard him snore and he hasn’t have an ear infection in probably a year or more. I do think a second opinion is warranted. He went under at nine months for an undescended testicle and that went well though it was tough on the parents.

I think we are going to seek a second opinion. Thank you the responses.

I just want to confirm this. For my sister it would’ve been simple when she was little, and it was considered a few times because she did have throat problems. But there was dilly-dallying and wondering if it was really necessary.

Now every time she gets a cold it goes to her throat and lays her low for two weeks, she gets ridiculously ill. She asked the GP to have her tonsils out but the GP is hesitant and keeps saying “maybe if you get another cold like this” and telling her it’s risky at her age. She wishes so much they’d just done it when she was little! I wish it too for her, every time I see how ill she is with a tiny little cold that I barely registered! :frowning:

Just something to consider.

I don’t really know what to say about the tonsils, but I do have to ask the question: why does a 3 month old see a speech therapist? I am seriously confused by that.
Regardless, good luck.

My niece just had her adenoids out, at the age of 4. She never had sore throat problems or ear infection but did have chronic colds that would linger for way too long. And she snored/had a hard time breathing in bed. Her speech wasn’t that nasal (her dad was very nasal before his tonsils and adenoids got removed) but she was turning in to a mouth breather.

Everyone was like “WHY NOT TONSILS TOO?” and we never got an answer from a doc but it was just assumed that they don’t like taking pieces out of toddlers if they don’t have to. No sore throat, no tonsil removal. Just the adenoids.

People with tonsil cancer get tonsil removal, which in the medical parlance is called radical tonsillectomy.

So… tonsillectomy (sans “radical” ) is merely the removal of the protruding part of the tonsil.

Nothing protruding, nothing to remove

And not many people are tonsil-less.

The word “months” in the OP was a typo. See post #5.