What is the top surgery performed on kids in the United States today? If you guessed tonsillectomy then you’d be 100% correct. Currently more than 530,000 tonsillectomies are done in the U.S. today and when we add in adenoidectomies there are about 1,460,000 per year. So what are we looking at for costs here? Well, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield, the average tonsillectomy costs about $5,442.00. The average adenoidectomy is anywhere from $5,000-$7,000.00. The good news is that if you do them together the cost doesn’t change much. Surprisingly, the rate of these surgeries is at 30 year low after it peaked at 1.5 million surgeries. So what is going on here? What can we do? And, most importantly, what do the tonsils and adenoids ACTUALLY DO?
Let’s get a little nerdy here. The adenoids and tonsils are called lymph tissue and they reside in the back of the throat. You can see your tonsils (as long as you have them) if you look in the mirror as those tow two round masses of tissue in the back of your throat on either side. You can’t see your adenoids though due to their location of being much farther back and higher up. So anyway, they part of a “ring” so to speak of immune tissue at the back of the throat. So immune cells circulate through the tonsils and adenoids and react to viruses, bacteria, etc. So this makes tonsils and adenoids part of your first line of defense. They are there to filter out nasty bugs that you may breathe in. They “sample” those bacteria and viruses and determine if they are harmless or harmful and if an immune reaction should be made to them. Furthermore, the tonsils and adenoids are most active in the first 3 years of life and as you age they become less important. As we age, they actually shrink in size. So here comes the immune system lesson. In your immune system you have two very basic parts. The Th1 system (we’ll call that acquired immunity) and the Th2 system (this one we’ll call your innate immunity). The acquired immune system is very advanced and very specific. Your innate immune system is much less sophisticated and has more of a “grenade” effect if you will (not nearly as specific or targeted). When you are born your innate immunity is the major working force and the acquired immunity develops as you grow. So your tonsils and adenoids are actually considered part of your innate immune system (along with your lymph nodes, spleen and Peyer’s patches.) These are super important for fighting off infections when your advanced acquired immune system is yet developing. Are you still following me here? Let’s bring this full circle. Your tonsils and adenoids are there to protect you from airborne illness in the early years of life while your more sophisticated immune system is developing. They are a GOOD thing!!!!!
Unfortunately, due to a whole host of problems which would take an entirely different blog, drainage is effected through movement in the neck. I spoke to a pediatric physical therapist and she said the number one referral to them was for torticollis in children (their neck being stuck one way) and that many of those children have chronic ear infections and sinus infections!!!! Do you know why??? Because the neck is VITALLY involved in the proper function of your ears and sinuses. When there is not proper drainage, those tonsils and adenoids get backed up. Or in the case of tubes in the ears, the fluids that is drained by the tubes goes over the tonsils and adenoids overwhelming them. So they become enlarged. And of course, the first answer is to just cut them out! Parents are told that they really aren’t important anyways.
So what does having your tonsils and adenoids removed do for you?? Well, the research actually shows that the success rate of these surgeries is 50%. 50%!!!! How crazy would I sound if I told you, “For $5-7,000.00 I could put your child under anesthesia and cut out some body tissues. It might work and it might not. There’s really no way of knowing and the outcomes as equally as likely.”
Just for reference in one of those studies the way that they measured improvement after surgery was the continued presence of allergies (runny nose, drainage down the throat).
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery concluded that “removing the adenoids of kids who frequently get colds, sinus infections and laryngitis is more expensive and doesn’t lead to better health or fewer symptoms than a “watchful waiting” approach”.
So then the question is, what can you do for your child? A crucial aspect of head and neck fluid drainage and immune system function goes back to the neck. Everything HAS to be moving properly for that to occur. Chiropractic can help here. Did you know that almost every child has birth trauma? Here’s my challenge to you. Go online and check out videos on youtube of birth. Look at the way those babies come out. Especially via c-section. Think about the pressure on those delicate necks and then you’ll start to see where this process is starting. Then we add in all the other aspects of life. Kids fall ALL THE TIME. They bump their heads ALL THE TIME. They sleep weird, they pull of crazy ninja moves. When that neck is not moving correctly the body cannot drain correctly. This lead to ear infections. Then we get tubes. The tubes forces drainage of that fluid over the tonsils and adenoids and they are overloaded and become enlarged and painful.
I recently spoke to a mom who gave me permission to share her son’s chiropractic testimonial. This is after about a month and a half of care.
Let me point out what we’re looking at here. The picture on the left is before care. Look at either side of the little punching bag (uvula) in the back of the throat. See those HUGE masses of tissue? Those are the tonsils. This kid’s body was not draining properly. After chiropractic care started allowing the body to heal and move fluids out of the ears and sinuses as it is meant to do, the load on the tonsils decreased and the picture on the right reflects that. Awesome isn’t it?
If you have any questions or any topics you’d like to hear about, let us know. But as always, we’re here for you. If your child is struggling with these health issues, come see us. We have great doctors who would love to help.