Studies have recently proven that a tonsillectomy has the potential to lead to weight gain and obesity in children. The good news regarding this topic, however, is that once you become aware of the facts and how to address the potential issues, it may be possible to intervene before weight problems become an issue.
A tonsillectomy is performed often when children are experiencing chronic sore throats, infections of the tonsil area or are finding it difficult to breathe because the adenoids are enlarged. This is a common procedure that most children recover from quite easily. There are many reports, however, that children who undergo this surgery experience significant weight gain or become obese over a period of years following the procedure. Studies conducted through surveys of children around age 7 showed that 61% of children who had the surgery experienced significant weight gain within one year, and the risk of obesity climbed by 136%. This included tonsillectomy with and without removal of the adenoids.
Why Obesity Is a Risk
There are a couple of reasons that obesity may be a direct risk for children who undergo a tonsillectomy procedure. Medical science has not discovered the exact cause for this phenomenon, but one suggestion hypothesizes that problems created by faulty tonsils, such as lack of sleep, poor appetite, low energy and recurrent infections make it more difficult for the body to grow properly. Once the problem has been taken care of by removal of the tonsils, the body experiences a spurt of growth that may end up surpassing normalcy. In other words, the body grows rapidly in somewhat of a catch-up phase that may get out of hand. Other theories state that children who are well often feel more like eating, and may overeat to compensate for such a long period of illness. Likewise, parents may tend to overfeed children who are finally feeling well.
Recommendations for Tonsillectomy Patients
If you or your child have undergone a tonsillectomy procedure, it’s very important to be aware of the risk for obesity and how to prevent it. Close and careful monitoring of how much and what types of foods are being fed to the children involved are of utmost concern. Make sure not to overfeed and encourage healthy or organic foods and snacks such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Research can provide you with answers to how much your child should be eating, based on his or her current age and height. You can also find information on healthy diets and exercise activities that would suit you and your child’s lifestyle most appropriately.
If a year or more has passed since your child’s tonsillectomy and proper use of healthy food and diet are not curbing problems with weight gain and obesity, you may want to schedule a thyroid examination. There have been reports of potential thyroid problems arising from a faulty tonsillectomy procedure. A dysfunctional thyroid can cause severe health problems including mood swings, significant weight loss or gain, pain or discomfort, bowel problems and more.