One Mother’s Experience With Snoring, Sleep Apnea, and Tonsillectomy
Child Tonsillectomy is not simple-but a must for our kid who snored
Adenoid removal surgery on a child seems to be a 3 day recovery, while adding tonsil removal to the surgery day adds 11 more days of recovery. As a scared parent of a child with diagnosed childhood sleep apnea, I still had to talk to many people, take my son to 2 different ENT doctors AND an allergist to be convinced to do tonsillectomy surgery in our child.
Please don’t let anyone do tonsillectomy surgery on a child less than 2.5 years unless they need surgery to survive to the next day! The Internet is full of death stories about adenoid and tonsil removal surgeries on children 2 years or younger. If you decide to do tonsillectomy surgery, make sure you are within 20 minutes of a GOOD hospital; if there is major post operative bleeding, young patients can die. I had to do a lot of research to convince me to have tonsils removed from my kid.
My son’s sleep apnea and childhood tonsillectomy story:
Since birth, my son had the following issues. He snored at less than 1 year and did mostly mouth breathing which caused frequent choking while eating. The only sickness he had was a yearly sinus infection; he never had bad ear or throat infections. My son’s biggest problems were trouble sleeping, hyperactivity, and constipation. Otherwise, he seemed to be a healthy kid. Removing the Adenoids was an easy decision after I insisted an ENT look at the adenoids with a scope to verify they blocked off my son’s nose passage almost completely. My husband’s experience with adult sleep apnea also helped our decision to remove my son’s adenoids. My husband’s parents were convinced in the early 1980’s he didn’t need surgery at age 5. After decades of problems, he can’t breathe well enough to live a long life, so he is suppose to use a CPAP machine. It seems surgery after puberty does not help sleep apnea patients much, so we wanted to prevent this future problem for our son.
The first highly recommended ENT surgeon we saw pretended to check our sons adenoids with a simple flashlight looking up my son’s nose and said “oh yes, they need to come out” and “tonsils should be removed because that is standard procedure for sleep apnea” . After we found out you can’t see adenoids without a small scope, we were skeptical and sought a second opinion.
Tonsil removal should not be considered lightly, the recovery process can be long. Some doctors play down the recovery process. My heart goes out to the kids and parents making this decision based on repeated sickness in the ears and throat. After reading a lot of tonsillectomy articles written by doctors, I would wait to remove tonsils to alleviate sickness until a whole year goes by and you or your kid is: older than 2yrs AND has 4 infections IN ONE YEAR. Some ENT surgeons rush surgery and perform it on kids less than 2 yrs. You must consider the risks, pain, and recovery after tonsil removal is worth it or you shouldn’t do it! Don’t assume you will be the lucky one who has a quick recovery and no post operative bleeding. To help you after surgery, I compiled these tips we found necessary!
Good pre and post operative tips can be found on this website. Also, post-op tips for parents can be found at http://www.childrensmn.org/manuals/pfs/surg/018765.pdf. This website is good because they give you good food tips and remind patients that a soft-food diet is necessary for 2 weeks after child tonsillectomy. Did you know major arteries and veins could have been injured in tonsillectomy surgery and surgeons cauterized to stop them from bleeding? The potential for bleeding 10 days after surgery must be taken more seriously than many people want to admit to you! I didn’t get all my info in one place or from my ENT, (ear, nose, and throat)doctor. I’ve tried to help others by posting this long post on the Internet. The Internet has so many scary stories and so many websites that make you think tonsil removal is easy and routine. My husband and I really appreciated helpful tips from a real parent’s and real patient’s experience.
I found only a few websites mentioning how much propping the patient’s head up with pillows can help recovery for the whole 2 weeks (use same height/angle that helps relieve acid reflux). I wish I found this tip on day 1 post-op!! My husband and I found this website really helpful https://tonsillectomyrecovery.com/tonsillectomy-recovery-forum/ For the good photos and patient stories about how long recovery can take. Check the surgery area daily (if you can with a popsicle stick to help hold down the tongue) but look over this website’s photos so you know what to expect! https://tonsillectomyrecovery.com/tonsillectomy-recovery-forum/ .
Homemade ice pops (made with mostly water) will be necessary for weeks 1 AND 2 after tonsil surgery! I can not say enough how helpful those home-made ‘water juice pops’ were! The tonsil removal patient needs round-the-clock care like a newborn so get help or you will never make it to day 10!!
Beware, I found BAD advice posted on the internet by ear, nose, and throat professionals!! Bad advice rushes recovery telling patients they can go back to playing outside or back to work/school before the scabs come off the tonsils; the scabs don’t come off in kids until one week after surgery (at the earliest). Bad websites only mention how recovery can be quick for people so you feel better about your potential recovery. Bad advice promotes post operative bleeding by telling patients they can eat french toast for breakfast! For 2 weeks patients should only eat soft foods. Bread Is only OK IF the crust is removed and ONLY IF THE BREAD IS SUPER SOFT. You can easily find internet stories from parents whose children died due to bad doctors or bad food advice! Be prepared and you will be thankful. Our child had a successful adenoidectomy and child tonsillectomy, but it wasn’t easy. We were thankful for good tips we found on the internet! Article by: Shannon Gordon
Thank you Shannon, My sons story is similar to yours and we have finally agreed to tonsil and adenoid removal after trying absolutely every other alternative. Our ENT also recommended the soft food diet for 2wks, this makes me feel reassured we have a good ENT. Can’t thank you enough for these resources.
My daughter had her surgery at 2, it was after going through almost a year of severe sleep apnea, she never had a sore throat or any other problem. she was breastfeeding at the time so between breast milk pediasure and mac and cheese she was back to feeling better by day 3 and i agree with Emmily the patient will be the guide as to the textue of the food,if i had to make te decision again i would nothing is more scary than sleep apnea in a child
My son has just had his tonsils and adenoids removed at 3.5yrs. The recovery had been a roller coaster ride we are at day 5 and I also believe that this should be a last resort. I do not agree with how ever the strict soft food diet, I am not too sure where you have got this view from. Ask any ENT and they will say have a normal diet after procedure and the patient will guide this my son was eating toast the next day and this has been his foid of choice the whole way through his recovery. Chewing is a very important part of the recovery being as normal as possible
Thank you to Shannon for sharing this story!