Scientists from Australia, Denmark and the United States for the first time studied the long-term consequences of removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood and concluded that such interventions increase the risk of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases in the future.
Adenoids and tonsils act as the first line of defense, helping to recognize airborne pathogens and trigger an immune response. Scientists analyzed the medical history of nearly 1.2 million Danish people born between 1979 and 1999. The observation period covered at least the first ten years of life, and in many cases it was possible to trace the health of the study participants to 30 years of age.
17,460 people underwent adenotomy (removal of adenoids) in childhood, and 11,830 underwent tonsillectomy (removal of tonsils). In more than 31 thousand patients, both tonsils and adenoids were removed. Such operations are prescribed to prevent complex recurrent infections of the nasopharynx and ear.
As it turned out, the removal of tonsils almost three times increased the risk of developing upper respiratory tract diseases in later life. Patients who underwent tonsillectomy in childhood were more likely to suffer from asthma, flu, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Removing adenoids almost doubled the risk of developing upper respiratory tract diseases and conjunctivitis.
Researchers suggest that the benefits of these operations are fairly short-term, and overall removal of tonsils and adenoids does not justify itself. The only truly long-term benefit from tonsillectomy was a reduced risk of tonsilitis, and from adenotomy, the prevention of sleep disorders. The risk of sinusitis and otitis media either remained unchanged or increased after surgery. Scientists urge to resort to these operations deliberately, in their opinion, the preservation of tonsils and adenoids can help the normal development of the child’s immune system and reduce possible risks in later life.
Author: Anna Hoteeva