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When I was growing up, it was quite fashionable for children to have their tonsils removed. A few sore throats, and BOOM - they were taken out. But what are the long term consequences of having the tonsils or adenoids removed in childhood? Are there any?

An interesting large study from Denmark, using Danish public health data, examined this issue and found a higher long-term risk of certain diseases. In those who had either tonsils or adenoids or both removed during childhood (up to the age of 9), years later there were higher rates of respiratory, infectious, and allergic diseases. Tonsil removal (for recurrent sore throats) is a tonsillectomy, adenoid removal (due to frequent middle ear infections) is an adenoidectomy, and removing both at once is a adenotonsillectomy. However, both adenoids and tonsils are parts of the immune system, have roles in pathogen detection and defense, and during childhood the immune system is still developing. From Science Daily:

Tonsil and adenoid removal associated with respiratory, allergic and infectious disease

Removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood increases the long-term risk of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases, according to researchers who have examined -- for the first time -- the long-term effects of the operations. The researchers suggest renewed evaluation of alternatives to these common paediatric surgeries that include removal of tonsils (tonsillectomy) to treat chronic tonsillitis or adenoids (adenoidectomy) to treat recurrent middle ear infections.   ...continue reading "Are There Any Long Term Risks From Tonsil or Adenoid Removal in Childhood?"