Why removing tonsils is not usually the answer for children who do not breathe easily

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are quite common in children, and may make breathing difficult. One way that this may manifest is as snoring and something known as sleep apnoea ” basically where breathing is so obstructed that it can stop for short periods during sleep. Surgical removal of tonsils and adenoids is a common strategy adopted by affected children. Like a lot of conventional medical care, tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (or ‘T and A’ as it is known in the trade) is assumed to work, but does it?

In a recent edition of the Journal of Pediatrics, doctors at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky, USA, tested the breathing of children before and after T and A operations [1]. The long and short of it is that only about a quarter of children were significantly benefited by the procedure. This is a classic example of where a close look at our medical practices reveals just how limited the effectiveness of modern medicine can be.

I’m writing this, though, not to have (another) go at conventional medicine, but to explore why T and A’s aren’t that effective. If I were to use one word that I think explains this phenomenon, it would be DAIRY. Here’s why:

Sensitivity or intolerance to dairy products is common, and in children commonly causes mucus, enlargement of the tonsils and/or adenoids, and general ‘congestion’ in and around the ears, nose and throat. What this means is that surgically removing the tonsils and adenoids doesn’t necessarily clear the airways sufficiently to prevent obstruction and sleep apnoea. I’ve seen a legion of these kids in practice: the tonsils and adenoids may be gone but they usually still have symptoms like nasal congestion, post-nasal drip and a bit too much phlegm generally.

They may have other symptoms of food sensitivity to, such as dark circles under the eyes.

My advice to parents of these children is to get dairy products out of the diet, and see how they go. Almost always, they are a lot better without it. The same is true of children with enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids who are yet to go under the knife. Just coming off dairy products is usually all it takes to spare them from surgery.

It seems that not all dairy products are equally likely to cause problems. It is believed it is the protein molecules, such as casein, that cause the sorts of problems we’re discussing here. Butter contains hardly any protein, as is rarely a cause of food sensitivity. And yoghurt is generally better than milk, as the protein molecules are broken down as bit by the bacteria used to make yoghurt, which makes them less likely to provoke problems. Also, goat and sheep products are generally better tolerated than those that come from cows.

When I write about ability for dairy products to cause food sensitivity problems I not uncommonly have communication from the Dairy Council here in the UK who tell me how mistaken I am. I have also been asked for ‘proof’ for my contentions.

I’m not against science (some of you may have noticed that I draw from it quite a lot), but it has limits. One obvious limitation is that some treatments and approaches that might have merit have simply not been studied, and there is therefore no proof or evidence either way. Many researchers and doctors seem to take absence of evidence as evidence of absence, and believe that something only becomes valid once it has been ‘proven’. Curiously, these individuals often suddenly lower this bar for ‘accepted’ medical practice, most of which has never been proven to be of benefit at all [2].

And why many in the scientific community believe that health care should be ‘evidence-based’, does that mean that ‘experience’ has to go out of the window? Do I need some piece of research, for instance, to be able to suggest that drinking some water each day is to be recommended? And do I also need a study, for instance, to warn people against smashing themselves in the face with a polo mallet?

And I sometimes wonder why it is that when individuals demand the ‘evidence’, they so often make assertions as though they are fact, but which are not supported by any published ‘evidence’. This soft of double-standard and hypocrisy is rife in science and medicine.

The reason that I advise who are suffer from nasal and upper airway congestion look to get dairy products out of their diet is because, in my experience, this often dramatically reduces and sometimes completely resolves their symptoms. And I will not be desisting in recommending other approaches that have not been studied but I find highly useful in practice.

And to those who would ask me to ‘prove’ the benefits of the advice I give, I say Prove it ain’t so.


References

1. Tauman R, et al. Persistence of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome in children after adenotonsillectomy. J Pediatr. 2006;149(6):803-8.

2. http://www.clinicalevidence.com/ceweb/about/knowledge.jsp

41 Responses to Why removing tonsils is not usually the answer for children who do not breathe easily

  1. Margaret Dolbaczuk 3 February 2007 at 1:16 am #

    I fully agree with this approach of elimination of dairy for a child or anyone with nasal congestion, enlarged tonsils etc. It is a fairly easy treatment to implement. My own daughter had nasal congestion for the first three years of her life and within three days of removing cow’s milk from her diet and replacing it with goats’ milk, her nose stopped running and the congestion stopped! It is one of those easy treatments to do and far less traumatic than having any surgery. Having seen hundreds of children having T & A’s while working on Paeds for years…I know that the children would likely prefer not drinking cow’s milk to having surgery!!!

  2. Dee 3 February 2007 at 10:42 am #

    My eldest son and I are both lactose intolerant, though he is far more sensitive than I.

    We now use A2 milk–with a different natural casein–and have no hmm-hmming or other symptoms from it.

    http://www.a2corporation.com

  3. Janet Alton MNIMH 3 February 2007 at 2:25 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more. I too find the advice to eliminate dairy extremely useful in practice, not only in nasal congestion but also all forms of eczema. I think it is nothing short of wicked that many doctors deride advice like this, leaning on ‘evidence-base’ because their training doesn’t include courses in nutrition, and thus depriving people of a relatively simple way to improve their wellbeing. Dietitians hate taking milk out of the diet because they have been taught that it is positively dangerous (calcium deficiency), so you have to be responsible and make sure you inform people about what constitutes a healthy diet – but this is not a reason not to at least try eliminating dairy – even doing it for a short time (I tell people, two weeks) will show you whether it’s an issue for you or not.

  4. Neil 4 February 2007 at 9:14 pm #

    I’ve read about the different forms of casein on Anthony Colpo’s website. He said that the A2 form is found in goats milk, and that from Jersey or Guernsey cows. His piece came from the angle that there may be an association between milk protein and heart disease.

    Personally I drink Channel Islands milk for the higher fat content and taste, but was pleased that as a bonus, it contains A2 casein.

    The downside for me is the 4 – 5% carbohydrate content of milk. Still, there’s usually double cream in the fridge!

    I don’t have a problem with ‘ordinary’ milk, but I would certainly experiment with total elimination if I thought it was giving me a problem.

  5. Dr John Briffa 4 February 2007 at 10:07 pm #

    I feel I need to get a bit of an education about the A2 casin ‘story’. I remember reading about it a couple of years ago but it didn’t ‘lodge’ with me. So, thank to Dee and Neil for raising my awareness about this again – I’m going to take a look at this issue and may well blog about it in due course. Regards. John.

  6. Christy Stylianides 2 May 2007 at 10:16 am #

    My daughter started getting nasal congestion from the age of 9 months. Eventually saw an ENT consultant at 18 months who said “T & A” was the only way to go because of large tonsils and adenoids. I’ve managed to stall on this for the last 3 years. We switched to goat’s milk about 2 years ago and that seemed to make a difference, but not much. My daughter has now had swollen glands in her neck for 5 months. Doctors don’t seem to think it’s anything serious, but she seems to be constantly fighting infection somewhere in the ENT area. I still want to avoid surgery, but now I’m thinking I’m being selfish. Does anyone have anything to suggest?

  7. Anni 13 September 2007 at 12:15 am #

    Reading this article – all I could think was YES!

    My children and I are 100% proof.

    NO MILK products = no more tonsillitis, no more asthma, no more earchaches, no more sore throats, no more coughs, no more runny noses, no more colds.

    Yet, no specialist will agree. They scoff and tell you that they are the expert. I find that infuriating.
    Luckily, I’m not so silly to trust what they say when I see the evidence for myself.

    We don’t see doctors anymore – we don’t need them.
    (We do backtrack sometimes and have some degree of milk products – which results in sore throats and runny noses. We NEVER EVER have icecream, which for some reason is the worst of all for us.
    In case anyone thinks it may be the coldness of the icecream that is the problem – not so. We can all eat non-dairy iceblocks or soy ‘icecream’ until the cows come home (no pun intended) with no effects at all.

    I love the way it is put in the above article: “Absence of evidence is evidence of absence” for most of the researchers and medical profession.
    It is so true.

    The worst thing is that so many children are having these unnecessary operations, and suffering through so many earaches and illnesses each year.
    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Anni & family

  8. Rob Brady 11 October 2007 at 11:47 am #

    Hello Dr,
    Would like your opinion on the possible connection between soy products and the protein in milk. A very credible forensic pathologist advised me (very emphatically) to remove all soy products from my 7 year old’s diet. I had contacted him regarding a completely different reason (chemicals in bedding) for my sons constant attacks of tonsilitis and gagging problems at night (mucus???). He followed my original inquiry with an email stating the above – he did not say remove dairy and soy – just soy. Could this be because of soys antinutrient properties which apparently interfere with enzymes which break down protein ie casein in dairy?
    Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
    Rob Brady

  9. jim bartley 2 March 2008 at 8:33 am #

    The evidence is there if you look for it in the literature.

    Forty-four of the 65 children (68 percent)
    had a response while receiving soy milk. Anal fissures
    and pain with defecation resolved. None of the
    children who received cow’s milk had a response. In
    all 44 children with a response, the response was
    confirmed with a double-blind challenge with cow’s
    milk. Children with a response had a higher frequency
    of coexistent rhinitis, dermatitis, or bronchospasm
    than those with no response (11 of 44 children vs.
    1 of 21, P=0.05); they were also more likely to have
    anal fissures and erythema or edema at base line (40
    of 44 vs. 9 of 21, P<0.001), evidence of inflammation
    of the rectal mucosa on biopsy (26 of 44 vs. 5 of 21,
    P=0.008), and signs of hypersensitivity, such as specific
    IgE antibodies to cow’s-milk antigens (31 of 44
    vs. 4 of 21, P<0.001).
    Conclusions
    In young children, chronic constipation
    can be a manifestation of intolerance of cow’s
    milk. (N Engl J Med 1998;339:1100-4.)

  10. mary 11 June 2008 at 1:18 am #

    My son has enlarged tonsils right now. Along with this he has had fluid in his ears since March/08 (that I know of). The ENT wants to place tubes in his ears because the fluid is thick. As well, he has a constant stuffy nose which when you look up looks blocked on the one side (he is also alway picking at his nose). A hearing test shows the ear drums are not moving. I have noticed also for the last approx. 6 months occassional hive or two will show up and he gets little bumps on his arms and face (which the dermatologist says children get) and I would call it the occassional exzema which I think is contact. I am so confused and would like to help him…please provide me with any assistance it would be greatly appreciated.

  11. Michelle 9 February 2009 at 7:50 am #

    Please HELP!! My 9 year old son has always snored. It drives me nuts when he sleeps because he takes small shallow breaths then gasps for air. I took him to an ENT doctor and immediately says to remove his tonsils and adnoids. This is a MAJOR surgery and it scares me to death. Aren’t there any other solutions besides surgery?? I’ve been trying to research this to come up with the best solution. Why is it that the medical field always jumps to surgery? What I’ve read says that tonsils have their reason for being there. Keep infection out! So why remove them? My son has not been sick with earaches nor sore throats, just snoring and breathing irregular during his sleep. Should we consider surgery or will he outgrow this like I have read? I’m going to try the no milk method or course first. He loves milk but I am willing to do anything first. My grandmother once told me when I first started having children, “Just remember, Doctors are only PRACTICING medicine.” I don’t want to be a neglectful parent and harm my child of course, but I DON’T want to just follow like sheep and do what the medical field ALWAYS recommends.

  12. kerry 19 July 2009 at 2:56 am #

    my daughter is 5 yrs old and shes got enlarged tonsils, doesnt suffer from tonsilitus, but when shes sick which she suffers from alot its like the food get stuck in her throat and cant get it up and she cant breath goes blue round the mouth and nose and collapses only for a few seconds but still very frightening. she also snores and has always got a stuffy nose ,cough and keeps swollowing like something is dribbling down her throat and then it makes her cough that in turn makes her sick sometimes. i prop her up at night to try and help but she just lies down in her sleep. is there any advice out there that can help im really worried that if she was to be sick in her room and i didnt hear her would she breath again properly. please help

  13. Dr John Briffa 19 July 2009 at 8:51 am #

    Kerry

    You, if you have not already, need to have your daughter properly assessed by an ENT surgeon and her doctor. I can’t offer you indvidualised advice, but can I suggest you read (or re-read) the blog post above and take appropriate action if you feel fit.

  14. Erika 7 August 2009 at 9:29 pm #

    Another family cured from going dairy free daughter 3 years had suffered recurrent Ear and throat infections, son spent first year of life on antibiotics for chest infections. Specialist told me NOT to remove dairy. I did it anyway, and prayed. What a miracle.. Two healthy healthy children no infections since. Husband who suffered from arthritis is now able to run, bike and gym everyday :)

  15. Olga 16 October 2009 at 1:38 am #

    dr briffa, my son is 2yrs and 4 mos has had a runny nose for as long as i can remember. every time i go into the peds office i mention this to his doctor and he tells me he’s in daycare and its probably another cold. my son is perfectly healthy and i just don’t buy this. his runny nose is a clear discharge. he also has dark circles under his eyes and snores alot. we’ve been told he has large tonsils and that he is a candidate to have these removed. i took him to an allergist and he tested negative to environmental and food allergies. could he have a sensitivity to cows milk? i will try your suggestion and keep him dairy free. i’ve heard that the phytoestrogen in soy may not be good for little boys, is there any merit to this? please advise…

  16. Olga 16 October 2009 at 1:41 am #

    could the large tonsils and possible large adenoids be causing his drippy nose? i hope going dairy free works and we avoid removal of his tonsils. aside from soy milk would you recommend goats milk? are there any special milk powders out there for toddlers with cows milk sensitivities?

  17. LilyRose 16 July 2010 at 1:33 am #

    My brother had his tonsils out at roughly age 5; this eliminated his ear infections. At age 5 I had scarlet fever, and developed chronic depression and constipation. I always had dark circles under my eyes. At age 5, my sister developed a lupus-like condition that nearly killed her.

    I’m wondering whether milk had anything to do with these conditions. We always drank a lot of it, since it was supposed to be “good for us”. But as kids grow up, they stop tolerating milk. Nobody ever told us that.

    Soy milk can irritate your sinuses too. I’ve had good luck with rice milk and almond milk. Eliminating dairy has eliminated my ear infections, sinus infections, sickly breath, and dizzy spells.

  18. Tach 30 September 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    My daughter is scheduled to consult with the ENT in a couple of weeks. She snores and has confirmed malfunction of the mouth because of mouth breathing. She has blocked nasal passages, difficulty eating, swallowing. She is also autistic with expressive and receptive language impairment so getting her to explain symptoms is a challenge. I am planning to remove milk from her diet because she only drinks it with cereal and won’t miss it that much. LilyRose mentioned that soy milk can irritate sinuses as well. Any other opinions about soy before I select an alternative milk replacement? Dr. Britta can you comment as well? Thanks.

  19. Ashutosh 21 April 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    My son (3 1/2 year old) have continous nasal congestion and running nose. We got his CT Scan done and found out that his Adenoids are bigger. Doctor have also checked his tonsils and they said is also swollen up but not infected. They have recommended Adenoidectomy and Tonsillectomy.

    We did the allergy test and it was negative. Please advise.

  20. K Dik 21 May 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I am a GP with more than 20 years experience, I saved may be 95% of enlarged tonsils from operation by complete refraining from cow milk products. I tell parents – avoid dairy for 3 months and see the results by yourself, then you can challenge and give the dairy after 3 months.

    They noticed tha: the children became less sick, tonsils shrink and no more need for the operation to remove the tonsils. Goat milk still not good enough, as they are also mammals. Substitute with soya milk or rice milk or both. OR at least lower dairy intake to less than 1/2.
    Tonsillitis, Rhinitis, Otitis, exzema, asthma – all improved.
    Try, and your children are the winners!

  21. Leena 13 June 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Hi,
    I would like to ask Michelle and Ashutosh if they went ahead with surgery or if they followed the advice of this blog and how are things now?

  22. Keri 4 August 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Ashutosh, we had our daughter tested for milk allergy as well and the results were negative as well. But further research led me to believe that with milk it is more often an intolerance which will not show up with an allergy test.
    We replaced dairy with soy for her with great results. In her case, her intolerance showed as very painful wind and bloating.
    When she turned 3 we reintroduced dairy, but three years on I am thinking we will remove it again as she now suffers recurrent tonsillitis and ear infections.
    We’re off to see a Dr who uses Homeopathic remedies tomorrow.

  23. Luigi 13 September 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    Hello, Our daughter is 7 yrs old. She has had enlarged tonsils since she was 18 mo. The family dr always told us that it would go away with time as she would “grow out of it”. She has always had an issue with laboured breathing and snoring during sleep. We have been told that she has 85% blockage. A recent visit with an ENT specialist resulted in a recommendation for surgery. She has crooked and oversized teeth and at times severe halitosis, dark circles under her eyes, always tired. THe ENT specialist has explained that this is a result of her mouthbreathing which is directly related to her enlarged tonsils. I feel like a bad parent who has caused damage to my child by neglecting this issue because it was supposed to go away on its own. We are frustrated and concerned. She does not suffer from constant throat infection but it is pretty bad when she does get it. We have not tried the elimination of milk but at this point will try anything to help her and ideally to avoid surgery. Any advice would be great. It is comforting to be able to relate to others going through the same thing.
    Thanks

  24. Ganesh 14 September 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    I get throat infection whenever I eat Ice-Cream and oily foods,so this are due to tonsils? How can i prevent it and also how it can be cured naturally at home without operation.Please tell

    • Rebecca 28 April 2014 at 12:25 am #

      Stop eating ice cream and oily foods.

  25. m k 10 October 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Hi all
    Per chance stumbled onto this site while searching for enalrged tonsils.
    My 5 year old daughter has significantly reduced dietary intake despite masses of encouragement and being fed by mum. The net result is that she lacks energy and we’ve noticed changed behaviour the most notable being ‘lack of brightness’ that she displeyed for from the agoe of 2 onwards.

    I put it down to enlarged tonsils.

    Background history: she developed ecczema from the age of 3 months and almost gre grew out of it whilst staying abroad in a warm climate for 3 months at age of 2.5 years- she also was rid of her usual allergies- diary products/egg etc.

    Gradually though she is becoming allergic child once again though not to milk intake.

    Thought the solutions for the enalrged tonsils might be tonsillotomy.

    More importantly how can we fix the poor dietary intake problem?

  26. teila 21 October 2011 at 7:24 am #

    hi guys, my son is just over two and for the past 18 months ( since he was about 9 months) has had recuring tonsilities, requiring Ab’s every time. recently we have been given a referral to an ENT specialist and thought the only way of stopping this from happening was to take them out. today i was a doc for other reasons, believe that his recurring tonsilities is due to dairy and to emilinate this for a while and see how things go. does anyone have any other stories like this? i am willing to give anything a go beofre resorting to surgery. i just want my little man to be healthy!!! thanks

  27. symptoms of tonsyllitis 12 November 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    I’m no longer certain the place you are getting your info, but good topic. I must spend some time finding out more or understanding more. Thank you for magnificent information I used to be looking for this information for my mission.

  28. Raquel Garza 22 November 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    My son is 22 months and has already had his adenoids removed this past March. It is 3 am and I’m awake now to make sure he is breathing. The adenoid removal helped some, but now they say at some point his tonsils will need to be removed . We saw the ENT about a month ago and because of my son’s age he would rather not do surgery now maybe wait till he’s 3. The tonsils are enlarged but he thought not enough to merit surgery at this time. We tried cow milk removal before adenoid surgery didn’t notice a big difference. But like Teila said I will try anything at this point not to have surgery. I think I will try almond milk, but should I give him a supplement for calcium? Do they even make that for toddlers? Any suggestions are welcomed. We would like to avoid the tonsillectomy for as long as possible

  29. Tasneem 6 December 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Hi. Please help. My 4 year old hAs recurring ear infections accompanied by a very high fever. The ENT has suggested grommets but also suggests that we take the tonsils and adenoids out while we are at it. I am instinctively against it as do believe that every part of the human body serves some purpose. We know he is allergic to milk as we have done blood tests. At the mo, he drinks soya with cereal but I have not removed all forms of dairy. He still has chocolate, biscuits, and ice cream. Will it make a difference if we allow some dairy but reduce it’s intake? Should we do the op?

  30. HG 7 December 2011 at 1:59 am #

    My 15 month old daughter has just been diagnosed with PFAPA, which is a periodic fever syndrome that occurs every 3-5 weeks with high fevers (that range from 103 – 105) that last 4 to 5 days. It is crazy and scary, as tylenol and motrin do not control the fever with PFAPA even when I’m diligently giving every 3 hours alternating tylenol and motrin, and as a result, her fever spikes and she’s already had 3 febrile seizures.

    PFAPA is common in children, but it is also a rare disease that usually goes away on its own once a child completes 8 – 10 years old. The doctor has given 3 options to treat her:

    The first one i steroids, which is out of the picture for me as the steroid works to stop the fever within the hour, however, it increases the frequency of the fever episodes, like every 2 weeks or so.

    The second option is to remove the tonsils, which has the highest chance (80 – 90%)of curing the disease, but since my baby is so young, I’m doing my research on the pros and cons.

    Finally, the third option is to take an over the counter medicine (anti-acid usually used to treat ulcers) called CIMETIDINE, which has to be taken every single day twice a day. This last option is the least evasive of all 3 options, however, the Dr. explained that it works differently from one child to another, sometimes it works completely ending the episodes, other times it decreases the number of days and/or frequency of the episodes and there are also cases that it doesn’t work at all.

    Since this is a disease that is not so well known and there aren’t that many studies about it. There are many doctors that claim that this syndrome doesn’t exist, others don’t even now of the existence of it, and every time I took my baby to the emergency room, they always say it’s a virus, but they can’t figure out what is triggering it. Not satisfied with their answers and traumatized enough seeing my baby girl having these crazy fevers and febrile seizures, I’ve started taking her to specialists, such as neurologist, hematologist, rheumatologist and finally, to an infections disease specialist at the National Children’s Hospital in D.C., and finally I got a diagnosis that explains everything she has, that is, the fevers around the beginning of every month (for 7 straight months so far), the swollen tonsils, the white blood cells count that is always high when she has the fever, and the non-response to Tylenol and Motrin.

    She is not coughing, sneezing, and as far as I’m concerned she doesn’t have allergies, but once here and there she does snore (rarely, but does) and seeing these comments about milk cow I’ve started wondering if maybe there could be a relation. I really don’t want my daughter’s tonsils to be removed.

    If anybody could shed a light it would be highly appreciated. Thank you for your attention.

    Concerned mom

  31. Jamie 21 January 2012 at 3:29 am #

    HG, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. My daughter was also diagnosed with PFAPA. She had all the same symptoms you were describing. She would have very high fevers several days about every other week. Eventually she started having the fevers every week with only a few days in between. We knew that we did not want to give her steroids or the anti-acids would could have negative long term effects. We were going to wait and see if she would outgrow it but by age four she had not. It really became a quality of life issue for her. We decided to go ahead with the surgery. It went very well and the recovery time was minimal. She NEVER had another PFAPA fever again!!! She was completely cured. You will have to a decision as to what is best for your child, but we never regretted it for a moment. She is a happy, healthy, and vibrant child. I am so glad we did not make her suffer until she was 10.

  32. Shanemmy 26 April 2012 at 1:36 am #

    My 4 year old Daughter had a constant cough for over a year. We saw Doctor after Doctor, and they kept telling me it was Asthma (despite the fact she had no other symptoms), a cold or they just didn’t know what it was. But each Doctor commented that her tonsils were very large. She also seemed to have sore throats alot and each time she got a sore throat she got a high temp too and she would end up at the Hospital Emergency Dept. We tried everything the Doctors gave me to treat the cough, but nothing worked, so in the end i did a bit of google research and decided to try my Daughter on a Dairy free diet. We could see the difference in a day. The cough dissapeared and so did the sore throats.
    I find it difficult to restrict her fully from Dairy, so we generally just buy Soy Milk and Nuttelex and let her have dairy in other products as these don’t seem to bother her. At one stage we found that if we had started to be a bit lax in keeping dairy out her diet, her cough would return, but lately, we’ve found that it seems to have dissapeared fullly.
    Doctors could never understand why we were taking her off Dairy, but i think the results speak for themselves.

  33. Sally 4 May 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    I would also like to write in support of going dairy-free. My baby was a snuffly/blocked nose baby from birth and I was constantly clearing her nose for her (even though she was breastfed too). I was regularly at the doctors, with their response being that it was a virus! My instincts told me it wasn’t virus after virus, but I really didn’t know what it was. When she was 12mths old she had a convulsion/unconcious/frothing at the mouth episode whilst at nursery and I was told it was inexplicable. She hadn’t had a temperature. But she had just had her bottle of milk. A week or so later, she was eating in her high chair and was looking unwell, when she began retching and out came the biggest ball of mixed food with mucus and phlegm, from her stomach, that I’ve ever seen. It was very traumatic. From that moment, I just knew it was a dairy intolerance. I took her off milk immediately and within 48hrs she was a different baby. However by then her tonsils were huge and causing very heavy breathing sounds (darth vader type) and sleep apnea. I was going to the hospital every 6mths to see if we could have them taken out. Which they did eventually when she was 4. They said they were huge! That has also made a world of difference. She’s now 5 and has very limited dairy, and we’ve never looked back. She is a different child . So a few learnings I have made: a constant green runny nose is a virus, a constant clear runny nose is a likely intolerance.
    Tonsil /ENT issues and dairy intolerance should definitely be considered.
    Doctors are unlikely to diagnose a dairy intolerance- so trust your own instincts.
    Tonsil removal really can help solve a lot of issues – but you will come up against professional objection and hesitance so you have to be firm if that’s what you believe is wrong. It took me 3yrs of regular hospital visits, but we got there in the end when she was old enough for the op.

  34. Rachel 5 May 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Could this also cause a child to have Strep often? A friend of mine has a 3 year old son and he is scheduled to have his tonsils and adnoids out in a few weeks due to having Strep VERY often. Does anyone know if cutting out dairy may help this resolve as well? Thank you in advance.

  35. nonegiven 5 June 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Get those kids off grains and dairy and the other most common allergenic foods. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions. They are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat.

  36. Halina Mastandrea 5 June 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    My son is 2 and a half, and my daughter is 1. We just visited the ENT specialist and were advised that both of our kids needed tubes put in their ears due to persistent ear infections and fluid retention in their ears. We have been advised that my son also needs his tonsils and adenoids removed as well to help with his sleep apnea, consitent congestion and nasal secretions. His tonsils are so enlarged that they touch. My son also has mild eczema on his arms and legs, which is making us consider a food allergy/sesitivity. My daughter has just been transitioned from breastmilk to cows milk, and is always constipated and has hard stools. Do you have any insights for us before we consider surgery and tubes?

  37. sarah 11 July 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    How long after removing dairy from the diet should you know if that is helping enough? We removed dairy a few weeks ago (although he has inadvertently gotten a little bit of cheese while out with relatives) and while his (my 2-yr old son) nose has stopped running, he still mouth breathes constantly, snores and seems to have some sleep apnea issues. ENT recommended adenoid removal and didn’t seem interested in pursuing other causes or treatments. Any other advice? We do not eat grains or processed foods and have very little refined sugar. (We eat a Paleo diet) – mostly veggies, fruits and protein (which we source as much as we can from local farmers and healthier sources).

  38. researching 26 December 2012 at 3:20 am #

    I found this page via googling, and while this opinion confirms what I believed when I set out on this, what do you suggest to a parent who has tried this and still has issues?? My son can only mouthbreathe, even when he appears to not be congested, and despite his tonsils not being very swollen. We are using orthotropics and myofunctional therapy. I’m usually very non-interventionist but at this point I’m using a steroid nasal spray and practically pushing for surgery. The allergist claims that tonsils and adenoids can be enlarged with few symtpoms, or not very enlarged and very problematic. I’m also going to get a sleep study.

    And for anyone else reading, if this is leading to constant mouth breathing, act now. It has suprisingly adverse and cascading ill health affects and will definitely affect their teeth and facial growth. I’m learning all this now, because most Drs. we’ve seen have been terribly uninformed about it. They check tonsil size, ask if they snore, and that’s it.

  39. Dena 31 January 2013 at 2:13 am #

    my 10 yr old saw an ENT and they want to do a catscan for her adnoids..orthodonics saw narrow on x-ray..is a ct scan necessary? Worried about radiation..i had tonsils/adnoids removed when 6..still a mouth breather.. she doesnt get sinus or ear infections..is there really serious affects from mouth breathing ??

  40. Rebecca 28 April 2014 at 12:28 am #

    I don’t understand why so many people are asking this doctor what to do when he says it right in the article: GET YOUR KIDS OFF DAIRY.

    I would add: don’t wait for another doctor to give you permission, just do it.

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