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Tonsillectomies help breathing problems in children

Filed in
  • surgery
  • Pediatrics

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Jul 26, 2011
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When tonsillectomies were first performed, they were mainly done as a way to combat recurrent sore throats. Yet, after a study was done in 1980, showing that only children with severe sore throats benefitted from the procedure, it was not performed as widely. However, tonsillectomies are now on the rise again.

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2006 nearly 530,000 tonsillectomies were done on children 15 and younger.

This spike is believed to be because of chronic snoring, breathing issues, and sleep problems. The tonsils are clusters of tissues located on both sides in the back of the throat. They can become enlarged and obstruct the upper airway. Almost 2 percent of children have obstructive sleep apnea according the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

Most children see their symptoms improve within 6 months after the surgery. Tonsils have been associated with respiratory illness, sinus infections, ear disease and sleep disorders. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that before getting the procedure, children should be submitted to a sleep study so that a proper diagnosis can be made.

To find out if you or your child has sleep apnea, visit an AASM accredited sleep center to have a sleep study done.