A new study found 88 per cent — roughly seven in eight — of kids who had undergone an operation to remove their tonsils were unlikely to benefit from the procedure.

The records of 1.6 million children were studied over a 12-year period and researchers found 12.4 per cent of those who had an operation had reported only five or six sore throats in a year. Some 44.7 per cent had suffered two to four sore throats in a year and 9.9 per cent had just one sore throat a year.

“Children with frequent sore throats usually suffer fewer sore throats over the next year or two,” Professor Tom Marshall, of the UK’s University of Birmingham — which conducted the study, said, according to Daily Mail.

“In those children with enough documented sore throats, the improvement is slightly quicker after tonsillectomy, which means surgery is justified. But research suggests children with fewer sore throats don’t benefit enough to justify surgery, because the sore throats tend to go away anyway.”

Children should only have their tonsils removed if they have had more than seven sore throats in a year, more than five sore throats per year for two successive years, or three sore throats per year for three successive years.

Research, by the University of Melbourne in Australia, found children who had their tonsils removed before the age of ten were at three times the risk of throat, nose and sinus infections as adults. Read more on that here.

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  • Wow, those are very interesting statistics.


  • My 5 year old got tonsillitis at the beginning of this month and had her course of antibiotics. This month is almost over and one tonsil still covers 1/2 her throat from the swelling (when I first took her to the doctor, that one side had swollen to the point of leaving only a cm gap). I took her back to the doctor with my concerns about it still being swollen and her being predominantly a mouth breather and he said some people take longer for their tonsils to go down, but as they aren’t red or infected all we can do is wait. I have to admit I was a bit surprised (especially seeing how large it had gotten). More surprised in fact, than I was to discover that I also had tonsillitis after have a tonsillectomy 30 years ago! They can grow back!!!


  • interesting findings. 7 in a year is a lot. poor kids suffering this.


  • We’ve not been a family with tonsil issues but I would assume there would be a criteria to meet before removing tonsils. Surely. My husband had his removed age 45 as they were so enlarged and effected his sleeping and breathing. The Dr was surprised he’d lived a life with them the size they were. It was a less pleasant procedure as an adult, than it would have been as a child — apparently.


  • Some of you had their kids with very severe throat pain. It looked like in those cases removing the tonsils was the best thing to do indeed!!


  • For every child I have known who had their tonsils removed it was VERY hard to get it approved, but it has been life changing for them.
    My daughter was constantly sick with fever, pain and vomiting -requiring antibiotics and bed rest at the age of 3. It disrupts their breathing, their speech development and their sleep. It also increases illness of other members of the family who are exposed
    After 16 rounds of antibiotics I finally was able to have them removed and now at the age of 8 she hasnt required antibiotics since.
    I know so many kids who were similar.


  • In my experience people who need their tonsils out often don’t or have it put off for a really long time. My husband suffered tonsillitis yearly from the age of about 7 and only got his tonsils out in his late thirties.


  • People think it is the best way out of the pain without really being concerned with the long term effects, their child is in pain now and need to be fixed now. I would probably do exactly the same as them


  • My daughter finally had her tonsils removed at the age of 16, after 13 years of recurrent bouts of tonsillitis. Every time she had a flare-up, the doctor would say the same thing…if she gets another bout, we’ll think about taking them out…13 years of anti-biotics, throat swabs, gargle with this, that and the other, tears and pain, and so much missed school, having to repeat year 10 because of these ugly little suckers, and finally relieve. The surgeon said they were just about the biggest and ugliest tonsils he had ever seem, and they should have been out years before they were. That was 5 years ago, and she hasn’t looked back. Only time she gets a sore throat now is when she has been yelling at a concert or something like that.


  • My brother got chronic tonsillitis every time he got a new tooth – including his wisdom teeth. There were times when his throat was so sore he could hardly swallow. He couldn’t even swallow soup or runny custard.


  • Thank you so much for this article!! My daughter is 16 and had 4 different episodes of sore throat during the last 12 months. The GP said that if she gets a 5th episode soon, she will send her to a specialist because maybe she needs her tonsils removed. I’m so glad to read that this could not be the case. Who wants an unnecessary operation?


  • Strangely, I don’t know any child who has had their tonsils removed. It was a big thing in the 70’s to get your tonsils removed, so many kids had them removed in those days.

    • Not sure of the stats – but so many people of that era did appear to have tonsils removed.


  • Interesting research given how many children I now with tonsils removed.


  • More education is needed I’m sure it’s done with the best intentions but seemingly not the best advice


  • That’s an awful lot of unnecessary operations.


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