Are Kids Without Tonsils More Susceptible to Infections?

Written by | Updated October 12, 2018

The short answer? No. Kids get sick no matter what. It’s a process their bodies have to go through to strengthen their immune systems by building up proper antibodies to fight off infection.

While tonsils act as the security guards to the throat—a part of the immune system tasked with fighting off infection that comes through your mouth—there’s no scientific evidence that living without them leads to getting sick more often.

Like the spleen and the appendix, tonsils aren’t a vital body part, so if your child has to get them extracted it’s not a huge deal. It’s among the most common surgeries for children.

Infection 101

Any time your child has an open wound, it’s an entrance for new germs, viruses, and bacteria. Right after tonsil surgery, your child may be slightly more susceptible to infection because of the incision but not because tonsils are required to fight off antigens. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to keep your child healthy during this healing period.

Why Kids Get Tonsillectomies

Kids with sleep apnea and chronic bacterial infections of the sinuses and throat are candidates for tonsillectomies. Only 20% of all tonsillectomies in kids today are because of infection issues—80% are done because of breathing and sleeping obstruction.1

How to Determine If Your Child Needs a Tonsillectomy

Kids who need adenoidectomies—removal of adenoids—and tonsillectomies are those who have chronic issues with strep throat, bacterial infections, sinus infections, and problems breathing like sleep apnea. Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether your child should have the procedure or not. In many cases, removing tonsils keeps kids with prior problems healthier.

If your child has recently had their tonsils out, you’ll want to be extra careful to protect them from cold and flu germs. Check out our post on flu prevention to keep your kids safe and well.

  1. American Academy of Ontolaryngology, “Tonsillectomy Facts in the US