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The Doctors invite otolaryngologist and author of the book “Hype” Dr. Nina Shapiro to discuss the Danish study which suggests that removing tonsils increases diseases later on. The study followed 1.2 million kids up until age 30. Half of the kids had their tonsils and adenoids removed while the others never had. The study found that the people who had their tonsils out had three times the rate of allergies and upper respiratory infections and those who had their adenoids out had two times the rate.
Dr. Shapiro notes that while this was a good study she feels there was an issue with its findings. She says the study was observational and used reverse causation. It didn’t gather information about who the kids that got their tonsils out were in the first place. She says they may have already had underlying health problems that would have caused diseases later in life regardless of their tonsillectomy. Dr. Shapiro says it is not necessarily true that if you have tonsils out you will be sick later in life.
Ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Andrew Ordon shares that the number of tonsillectomies has been cut in half since the '80s yet there are also more reasons now besides reoccurring sore throats, such as sleep and breathing issues, that tonsils and adenoids should be removed. Parents need to understand the risks of the surgery, short and long-term, and discuss it with their doctor.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says on the flip side some parents put a lot of pressure on doctors to have their kids’ tonsils removed and he says they should also have a conversation about why possibly waiting could be a better choice. Sometimes it’s hard to find a surgeon who says they don’t need it. But it’s not like it used to be when “you have a few sore throats so you get your tonsils out, your siblings get their tonsils out, your neighbors get their tonsils out… line ‘em up!” jokes Dr. Shapiro.