In the past, the tonsils and adenoids were frequently removed during childhood as a preventive measure. Nowadays, doctors are only willing to recommend surgery in serious cases, as described below.
When to see a doctor
You should seek professional medical attention if:
- A child has symptoms of acute tonsillitis, as listed above.
- In addition to tonsillitis symptoms, the child begins drooling or experiences trouble breathing. This may be a sign of a tonsillar abscess.
- The child breathes with difficulty at night, or breathes noisily. This can indicate large, overgrown tonsils and adenoids.
- The child has episodes of sleep apnoea.
- The child has fever or pain that is not helped by taking antibiotics, and the tonsils have yellowish-white spots or a discharge. These may be signs of mononucleosis or some other viral infection.
Reviewed by Prof Eugene Weinberg, Paediatrician Health24, February 2015.