So here's an interesting fact that I learned today: the adenoid, once surgically removed, CAN grow back in some cases. Tonsils don't grow back when surgically removed. We had an appointment with Matthew's new ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat) doctor today.
Checking Ear Tubes and Tonsils
Bill took the day off work so he could come to the appointment and help hold Matthew down when the doctor checked his ears. I was holding his legs down, Bill was holding his arms down and a nurse was holding Matthew's head in place while the doctor scooped out wax from his left ear. Needless to say, Matthew was very upset about being restrained. Upon inspection under the microscope, the doctor discovered that the ear tube in the left ear had already fallen out so that was scooped out too. There is now a hole in Matthew's eardrum where the tube was set. It may or may not heal on its own but the doctor said that hole will help with drainage and function as if the ear tube was still there. So at the moment, the ear tube does not need to be replaced.
After checking the ears, the doctor checked his tonsils. Yup, they are indeed large. We told him that Matthew snores too. Sometimes, we sometimes hear him gasp for air (sounds like it) over the baby monitor. And when he was younger, he used to wake up in the middle of the night, coughing and congested, but not sick. He'd just have a hard time breathing because of the congestion, yet he did not have a cold. Could he have developed allergies? The doctor explained that it's not usually the case for kids in his age range. Bouts of congestion like that are usually viral-related, he said.
Possible Solution to Breathing Issue - Surgery?
He suggested that a sleep study was an available option for us if we were very worried about Matthew's breathing at night. Possible apnea? At the same time, he advised us that kids Matthew's age usually yank off the wires that they would attach to his body from the apnea monitor. We won't get accurate results, if any, that way. So maybe watching him sleep at home might be better to see if there are any lapses in his breathing.
Because of his occasional breathing issues and large tonsils, Matthew is a candidate for tonsilectomy (surgical removal of tonsils). And because 50% of the time, removing the tonsils isn't enough to clear the airway for kids with Down syndrome, he would need to remove part of the adenoid at the same time. The procedure starts after 45 minutes of being under anesthesia. The surgery is done through the mouth. If we opt for surgery in the next few months, he will need to stay overnight at the hospital after surgery for monitoring since he is under 4 years of age. Throat pain usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. We are to expect having a hard time getting Matthew to drink during the recovery period. And no travelling while he is recovering.
According to our ENT, (approx.) 90% of kids without Down syndrome, who undergo this type of surgery, do not experience any recurrence of their breathing issue. But for (approx.) 40%-50% of kids with Down syndrome who undergo this type of surgery, another breathing issue may surface, possibly caused by other factors. (unknown to us at this time. We can't tell what Matthew's future is going to be).
The decision for surgery, even if it is a relatively simple one, is not easy for us. It's still surgery no matter how minor. We're going to bide our time and see how he does over the summer. Maybe we'll even wait until he's 4 years old. In the meantime, we'll continue with our nightly routine of warm baths in a steamed-up bathroom, saline solution and using a bulb to clear his nose, and a cool mist humidifier in his room at night. We'll see this ENT doctor again for a follow-up visit in approximately six months. We liked how he answered our questions and provided possible courses of action. We also noticed that whenever he said "normal children", he immediately corrected himself saying, "children without Down syndrome" and then finishes his sentence. Hey, at least he's trying to be sensitive about his choice of words.
Bill and I are now wondering about experiences of other parents who have opted for this type of surgery for their kids, with or without Down syndrome. Also, we are wondering if there are older kids/ adults that have not had their tonsils and/or adenoid removed. Do they or their parents wish they opted for surgery earlier or maybe even regret it?