Research released last week shows that the surgical removal of tonsils and adenoids in children under the age of 9 significantly raises the risk of a number of diseases later in life. Diseases that showed a significant increase included upper respiratory tract infections, asthma and pneumonia. Other diseases that increased but not as markedly included allergic conjunctivitis, ezema,  dermatitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Children who had undergone tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy for the treatment of sinusitis or ear infections continued to suffer higher rates of these conditions after surgery than children who did not undergo these procedures, and those who had undergone these procedures for sleep disorders had only a minimal resolution of those sleep disorders. A sizable study, this research looked at almost 1.2 million children born in Denmark between 1979 and 1999 and then followed them for 10 to 30 years. Of these children more than 50,000 had undergone a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy or both. The study recommended that the increased long-term risk of infections and allergies be taken into consideration before the decision is made to remove tonsils and adenoids.

Obstructed breathing is a growing issue in children that cannot be ignored. Reduced oxygenation of a child’s brain due to snoring, commonly caused by enlarged tonsils, has been found to have long-term consequences on the growing brain, and children who snore are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. However, caught early enough, the very best solution is to treat the cause of the obstructed breathing rather than just the symptoms. One of the leading causes of enlarged tonsils and adenoids is mouth-breathing. Tonsils and adenoids aren’t able to filter air as efficiently as the nose can, leading to recurrent infections. By helping children switch to nasal breathing they develop wider, healthier faces and airways – helping to prevent the chronic nasal congestion, snoring and crooked teeth that many children suffer from.

Breathing retraining coupled with orofacial myology is the ideal solution for a child who is mouth-breathing and suffering with mild to moderate enlargement of tonsils and adenoids. Not only is it possible to avoid removal of tonsils and adenoids in many such cases, addressing breathing and orofacial development issues early helps a child develop wider airways, reducing the risk of snoring and sleep apnoea later in life. For a child who has already had tonsils and/or adenoids removed and is still mouth-breathing, it is still possible to reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections and allergies through helping them develop a full-time nasal breathing habit, both day and night. It is never too late to implement good breathing habits!

If you have a child with a mouth-breathing habit contact me for a breathing and/or orofacial myology assessment at [email protected].