Chronic infectious tonsillitis, sinusitis, snoring, behavior problems, breathing problems, bed wetting.
Who would have thought that tonsils—those two masses of tissue at the back of the throat—could be the cause of so many problems? Dr. Ted Benke would.
That’s because Dr. Benke is a board certified otolaryngologist, a physician specializing in conditions of the ear, nose and throat.
“The interesting thing about tonsillectomy in children is that, traditionally, it’s been done for chronic tonsillitis, but now more tonsillectomies are done because of large tonsils causing airway obstruction,” Benke said.
In fact, many childhood problems may be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, he said.
“It’s a real issue in children,” Benke said. “If they snore, then their quality of sleep is diminished, and we see a relationship between airway obstruction in children and ADHD and poor school performance.”
Research has shown that the tonsils of children, aged 2-7, can regularly become enlarged, and because a child’s throat is narrow, the swelling can often partially block their airway. This can lead to a disruption in the child’s breathing, either during the day, or at night, causing snoring, sleep apnea, difficulty awakening, headaches, even bedwetting.
Untreated obstruction also contributes to dental problems, like malocclusion, crowding and facial skeletal abnormalities.
Indications for tonsillectomy include chronic tonsillitis and enlarged tonsils causing obstruction.
Tonsillectomies are the second most common childhood surgery, second only to ear-tube insertions, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Of the 600,000 tonsillectomies performed each year, however, 75% of tonsillectomies are now done to treat nighttime breathing problems.
Benke, who has hospital privileges at Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital, Cook Children’s Medical Center and the Doctor’s Surgery Center at Huguley Hospital, says the good news is that tonsillectomies have come a long way since they were first performed in 30 A.D. by the Roman surgeon Celsus, who described tearing the tonsils out with a hook!
“Traditional tonsillectomies conjure up images of cranky children unable to swallow anything but ice cream or other soft food,” Benke said. “But recent advances in surgical techniques for children have made this image virtually a thing of the past.
“With coblation tonsillectomy, which uses much gentler tools, children in clinical studies have been shown to experience less pain and recover more quickly than those who received traditional tonsillectomies.
“Now, we use an advanced technology that combines radiofrequency energy with natural saline to quickly and safely remove the tonsils. And, because we don’t use heat, the procedure leaves the healthy tissue surrounding the tonsils intact.”
Benke said that means the patient will have less pain, less risk of bleeding and will allow the patient to resume a normal diet and activity within a couple days.
So, if your child has been having trouble sleeping, difficulty breathing, or has struggled with bedwetting, enlarged tonsils could be the reason. Call Benke Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic today for an evaluation at 817-641-3750.
Benke Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic treats a variety of childhood problems including chronic ear infections and hearing loss, sinusitis and allergies (including RAST blood allergy testing) and facial and neck lesions and tumors.Our doctor of audiology sees infants and children for hearing testing and hearing aids.