0 In Understanding Feeding Milestones

Will a Tonsillectomy or Adenoidectomy Help Your Fussy Eater?

Will surgery for tonsils or adenoids help your fussy eater? by Children's Nutritionist Simone Emery

The root cause of fussy eating is a big kettle of fish! Health professionals investigate root causes with parents first-off-the bat because … if you don’t know why something is happening, how are you meant to understand / help it? Parents didn’t start MAKING their children turn their nose up at food! #Truth. Is there a parent that hopes their child is fussy / picky? No siree bob. Parents don’t CAUSE fussy eating. There is always something underlying the behaviours we are observing.  Today’s question is, is it large tonsils or adenoids that cause fussy eating? And I am so glad that Belinda from Advanced Dietitians Group in Perth has been happy to share her personal story about her son’s tosillectomy and adenoidectomy.

(Read more on when you may want to get help for fussy eaters including a FREE brochure to help you advocate for your child here).

Before we dive into finding out Belinda’s result to the million dollar question, “Will tonsils and adenoids being removed also stop fussy eating?”, there are some fact finding missions that need to happen about YOUR situation and I want to impress on you that you need to get INDIVIDUAL MEDICAL ATTENTION for your situation from your paediatric ENT regarding these procedures. Ask yourself:

  1. Have you looked into ALL the symptoms that your child is exhibiting?
  2. Have you ruled out all other reasons for picky eating?  These can include but aren’t limited to the following:-

Belinda’s Experience with Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Day One:

My gorgeous little guy just had to have his tonsils and adenoids out due to obstructive sleep apnoea or OSA.

He had some clear signs and symptoms of OSA. But when I was chatting to family and friends about it, it occurred to me that not many people are aware of the signs of OSA in children or the impact it can have. OSA in children usually occurs due to large tonsils and adenoids blocking the airway. If left untreated, a child with OSA may be developmentally delayed and in the long term OSA may cause heart problems and high blood pressure.

So if your child has any of the following, ask your GP to investigate further and refer to an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist. Some of these signs might be subtle so trust your gut- mum (and dad) instinct knows best.

1. Loud snoring particularly if he or she is gasping for air and/or has pauses in breathing, or sounds like he/she is choking or snorting

2. Sweating excessively during sleep

3. Mouth breathing during sleep and often sleeping with head tilted back

4. Always tired and sleeping longer than other kids, perhaps even complaining of a headache 🤕 in the mornings

5. Excessive drooling and/or bad breath 😷 .

6. Poor articulation of words- my little one has quite a good vocabulary but couldn’t say ‘sp’ sounds

7. Difficulty swallowing- in our experience as dietitians we often notice children with suspected OSA will not eat red meat

8. Sometimes the only sign of OSA is behavioural issues or difficulty paying attention. Sometimes the child may be going down the route of unnecessarily being diagnosed with ADHD.

My little one was snoring loudly and gasping for air, was excessively tired and having very long day time naps, wouldn’t eat red meat, and had difficulty paying attention (which hey, could have just been a toddler thing) so I thought I’d get him checked. And yep his tonsils were HUGE!

Obviously having his tonsils and adenoids out wasn’t much fun but we are on the mend.

At Day 6 post-surgery:

We are day 6 after the surgery and already his snoring and gasping has stopped. Apparently it supposed to continue for a little while afterwards but he is such a quiet sleeper now we keep checking if he is breathing!

It has been tough though as it is hit and miss if he takes the pain medication and it’s hard seeing your little one in pain. We are up A LOT at night .. but its getting better each day. The ENT surgeon actually said he didn’t know how my little one had been breathing at all as his tonsils were so big. And he has only ever had tonsillitis once.

Three months post-surgery:

It’s been 3 months since our little one had his tonsils and adenoids out.

Our gorgeous little man now sleeps through the night (except when there are monsters in his room of course- but we have monster spray so that fixes that!) and his breathing is so quiet – I’m probably up more checking that he is actually breathing! He is definitely getting more oxygen to his brain 🧠 .

Some other things I have noticed are:

* He is not so tired all the time 😴- something I’ve noticed more now than I did at the time.

* He is not all of a sudden eating red meat 🥩 – it’s a strong flavour for some kids to get used to – but he is eating beef sausages now and more of other types of meat, so happy about that.

* His appetite was always pretty good beforehand for most of the day except when it was dinner time 🍴- again normal toddler behaviour. BUT NOW he eats much larger portions (we’ve had to up our fish and chip order to 3 pieces fish now!) and comes to the dinner table much easier and more than before.

* His sentence structure and speech in general is SO MUCH BETTER. I hadn’t realised that I could understand him perfectly but not everyone could.

* His behaviour and ability to pay attention is slightly better – but hey he is a threenager so not meant to sit still and behave anyway!

It wasn’t a walk in the park to have the surgery. It’s awful seeing your little ones eyes roll as they go under anaesthetic and it wasn’t nice seeing him skip into the hospital, teddy in tow not fully aware of what was about to happen. Plus we had the added stress of him not taking the medication. He refused, clamped his mouth shut, spat it out and ran away from us, so panadol suppositories did the trick. If your little one has to have their tonsils and/or adenoids out, as a parent just be prepared for very little sleep for about one week and lots of cuddles (the rocking type). His voice was also a bit strange for a while but now back to normal. It probably took about 6 weeks for him to fully recover. … We are so glad we had it done😊

Thanks so much Belinda for your amazing insights as to your WHY for getting the procedure done and also chatting about the recovery. It’s great to see he is on the mend!

Belinda Martin is an accredited practicing dietitian from Perth. Belinda is a member of Advanced Dietitians Group in Perth, Australia, a team passionate about providing sensible, evidence based nutrition advice when it’s most needed. The team are leaders in paediatric and maternal nutrition. You can follow them on social media here for their facebook page. And here for their instagram feed (which is where I met them).


PS – While I have got you here, this article may also interest you…. Why kids are fussy about meat!

What has your experience been with tonsils and adenoids?



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