Sunday, August 09, 2009

Tonsils and Failure to Thrive

I have now dealt with failure to thrive issues with two children and the solutions to each of them have been completely different.

Sparky, now 11, was diagnosed with celiac disease at 19 months. Once we put him on a gluten-free diet he put on weight. However, he did not get any taller. Some months later we learned that he had pituitarian dwarfism. I know it sounds awful, but it's easily treatable -- he gets a growth hormone shot each night.

Fast forward a good number of years and I now have a 7-year old who has dropped from the 50% for height to the 5% over the past four years. He doesn't have celiac and he doesn't have hormone issues. What he has is great big, gigantic tonsils. Yep, humongus tonsils can keep your kid from growing.

His tonsils are so big they cause him to snore like a big grizzly bear. Ever since he was a little baby. I'd mention it to the doctor but he never thought much about it. At least until the kid started dropping off the growth chart.

Anyway, the snoring keeps him from sleeping and if you don't get enough REM sleep then you don't grow. It can also cause learning delays which may explain why the child struggles with his phonics lessons. Also, I'm told it may solve his picky eating problem. Whoda ever thunk? Apparently, it's uncomfortable to eat with tonsils that almost touch each other. We're even told that his voice will change and he'll probably lose his baby voice.

Gosh, it almost seems that removing tonsils can solve anything and everything. I wonder if it'll solve the bickering-with-his-brothers problem. Hey, I can hope!


Heather said...

My son had speech issues to the point of being almost 4 and I couldn't understand him at least half the time--worse if I wasn't focused on him or had no context. He snored, too.

A nurse noticed his tonsils doing a strep swab; they took his adenoids too. It took about two or three months but then his speech took a stunning turn for the better. His snoring stopped the day of the surgery.
His speech therapist theorized that after having 'em yanked, he could sleep with his lips closed and that promoted the muscular development for clearer speech.

Remarkable how it all ties together, isn't it? :)

Pauline Books & Media and the Daughters of St. Paul said...

Wow, it's amazing what doctors can find now to help us out!

I was diagnosed with Celiac disease 3 years ago and it's changed my life...for the better. Best of luck to your boys!

Brutus said...

I got mine out at age 28! What a HUGE change in my life, definitely for the better! I say if they are worthless anyway, get them out, and do it while you're young! :)

See you VERY SOON!

Maureen said...

So Brutus, as a singer, how did it change your voice? See you and the family tonight!

Brutus said...

At the time, I was very active in singing, and my tonsils had cavernous crypts which collected food, and also were a source of infections from time to time. My singing performance and confidence was compromised by the constant annoying feeling that my tonsils provided, a constant problem with the feeling of them and the little food particles within the crypts. As a "by-product" I had very bad breath as well. As soon as I healed following the surgery, it was a night and day change of life, and confidence lift, and a casting off of the worry and discomfort that I had felt for so many years. My surgeon was wonderful! Wish I could remember his name to thank him for a job well done!

RealMom4Life said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I was just asking for advise regarding my tiny 6 year old at the FaithandFamily website, someone referred me to this page. We're seeing specialists right now but so far no answer, we will likely go gluten free for a number of months to see what happens, we've been told it's not likely hormonal for him since he's so skinny as well as short. But the tonsils got me! He snores - loud! And, his voice is like that of a much younger child. May not be tonsils for him - but could be, you've given me something to ask about.

Maureen said...

Real Mom,

Did you have him tested for celiac? It's a very simple blood test. The thing is that you need to load him up with gluten (wheat, oats, barley and rye) for a week or two before the test. The blood test is looking for antibodies created by the body that fight the gluten. Another symptom of celiac is chronic diarrhea. Although my son did not have that symptom as he also has thyroid issues.

It may be a whole lot simpler to have the blood test than go completely GF for a few months. Celiacs need to be COMPLETELY GF. You can't even take a pepperoni off a pizza due to contamination. It's not an easy lifestyle.

And definitely bring up the tonsils. The physician's asst. at my doctor's office didn't know that could cause failure to thrive. She only knew that it could cause learning delays. It was my other son's pediatric endocrinologist who brought it up initially. Also, the ear, nose & throat specialist said he is 99.9% sure this is my son's problem. My son is really skinny too.

Maureen said...

Real Mom,

A couple more points I should bring up about our family's situation. Our first son was tested several times for thyroid and came back normal. It wasn't until we got to a good children's hospital (UofM in Ann Arbor, MI) that we found that the previous hospital was looking at his numbers as though he was an adult and completely missed that he wasn't producing enough thyroid.

Another point to consider -- is your son dropping off the chart or has he consistently been in that percentile? Were you or your husband small as children?

The one thing I've learned is that we need to be advocates for our children. We took our older son to doctor after doctor and didn't give up -- even when they blew us off or completely misdiagnosed him. I could write a long article on the whole ordeal. We even met with the head of the hospital in our town which resulted in some important changes so other children got better treatment than our son. So, just want to say -- kudos to you for going to bat for your son and not giving up!

Praying for you and yours!