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Nurse Susan
Nurse Susan, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1091
Experience:  RN, BSN, MSN-ED, Nurse Educator whose passion is helping people understand their health and wellness
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1What is the importance of tonsils? 2Are there any functions

Resolved Question:

1What is the importance of tonsils?
2Are there any functions that they do that are not duplicated elsewhere in the body?
3Do they protect in any way against cancer what studies exist?
4 If a child has had the flew(not swine flew) 21 days prior to the operation and taken tamiflu,Motrin and Tylenol is there any danger for the anesthesia?
5 If a child has had pneumonia twice before do the tonsils help prevent it from recurring(may they be storing white blood cells that have a memory of the specific pneumonia).
6 does removing them weaken the childs immune system now and in the future?
7 there has been an outbreak of swine flew at the school were wife works should we delay the operation?
8 what are the alternate treatments rather than operating

My wife has sean a doctor about removing my 9 year old daughters tonsils because they are very enlarged and she snores at night. Last summer we went to Greece and she took zitrak Doc's sug. and her tonsils shrunk and was able to sleap better
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Nurse Susan replied 8 years ago.

I hope I can help you with these questions. The tonsils form part of the body's lymph system, which does help the body battle and fight disease. The tonsils are felt to be particularly important in fighting off respiratory infections. However, when they are removed, other parts of the immune system do function as they should, and kids with no tonsils dont seem to get more frequent colds than kids with tonsils; in fact, kids with no tonsils may get LESS infections after a tonsilectomy, but that may be because most kids who have had their tonsils removed do it BECAUSE the tonsils are part of the reason for the problem as they are inflamed or infected.

Tonsils are largest in childhood, and shrink as people age. The trend in the past has been to remove tonsils often, now, it is more conservative. Is your childs snoring so bad that at times she does not breathe during sleep? That is called sleep apnea, untreated sleep apnea can have bad health consequences. If your daughter does NOT have sleep apnea, you may want to ask her pediatrician why he or she wishes to have the tonsils removed.

Your daughter has had pneumonia twice. The tonsils themselves do not "remember" previous viruses and bacteria. That function is done by white blood cells and antibodies, and as they would still be in your childs body, they would be able to fight off invading pathogens. The outbreak of swine flu at your daughters school has no relevance unless SHE herself was sick with it at the time of the operation.

Generally people who have bad illnesses at the time of the surgery do need to wait until they are well, no fever. If your daughter is well at the time of surgery, it wont be an issue. Of course, your surgeon makes the final determination there. As for dangers of surgery and anasthesia, all proceedures do have risks.

Alternates: dont remove the tonsils. As I said, tonsils shrink as we grow, so over time the situation MAY self correct. Especially if there is no sleep apnea. Then again it may not, and adults tend to have more troubles after a tonsilectomy than do children. If zyrtec seemed to shrink your childs tonsils, you may want to discuss with her pediatrician keeping her on that medication.

As for the cancer link, there was no research I could find that stated tonsils protect against cancer. However, while your daughter is 9 and so much too young for this information, tonsils infected with the HPV virus (common during oral sex) do have a higher risk for getting tonsil cancer.

I hope I was able to help and give you some ideas and suggestions to discuss with your daughters pediatrician.

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