At a recent presentation at the Australian National Ear Nose and Throat conference a theory was suggested that big tonsils and adenoids may develop because of low iron levels. It was proposed that low blood iron levels may cause problems with the children’s ability to fight infection in the throat and nose, leading to more infections and an increase in the size of the tonsils and adenoids.

Children with large tonsils and adenoids may have problems with noisy breathing at night (sleep disordered breathing) and also experience recurrent throat infections and tonsillitis. If bad enough these symptoms can sometimes lead to surgery being recommended for the tonsils and adenoids to be removed.

In a large West Australian study of over 1400 children who required tonsil and adenoid surgery had their iron levels tested at the same time as their surgery.

Over half of these children had low iron levels. These children needing surgery were over 5 times more likely to have low iron levels when compared to the iron levels of those children in the normal population who didn’t have recurrent throat infections and noisy night time breathing.

The recommendation was that children suffering snoring and tonsil infections may benefit from routine testing of their iron blood levels. This would enable those children with low iron levels to be identified and treated with iron supplements.

Further studies need to be done to see if the results in this study are repeatable and if treating those children who have low iron levels with iron supplements will help stop tonsil infections and night time snoring.

Please contact Dr Farrell’s rooms for further details.