Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the variation in tonsil size and prevalence of asymmetric tonsils in 4- to 17-year-old schoolchildren and the relationships between tonsillar hypertrophy and frequent tonsillitis, frequent fever, and sleep-related symptoms observed by parents.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Six daycare centres, four primary schools, and four high schools.
Methods: Questionnaire and physical examination.
Main outcome measures: The size of the tonsils was evaluated and scored on a 4-point scale. The interrelationships between tonsillar hypertrophy and other studied symptoms were examined.
Results: In the study, the parents of 1784 children, consisting of 803 (45%) boys and 981 (55%) girls, completed the questionnaires. The prevalence rates of snoring, habitual snoring, observed apnea, and habitual observed apnea were 24.6%, 4.1%, 3.8%, and 0.9%, respectively. The results of tonsil scoring were grade 1, 62.7%; grade 2, 28.4%; grade 3, 3.3%; and grade 4, 0.1%. The prevalence rate of grade 1 tonsils was increasing, whereas the prevalence rates of grade 2 and 3 tonsils were decreasing with increasing age. Tonsil size peaked in 4- to 8-year-old children. The prevalence rates of tonsillar hypertrophy and asymmetric tonsils were 3.4% and 1.7%, respectively. Tonsillar hypertrophy was found to be significantly associated with male gender, a history of frequent tonsillitis, a history of frequent fever, often or always snoring, and often or always observed apnea.
Conclusions: A tonsil size curve was developed in 4- to 17-year-old schoolchildren. Children aged 4- to 8 years with oropharyngeal symptoms and particularly male gender should undergo consultation with otorhinolaryngology and pediatric pulmonology physicians for the evalution of adenotonsillar tissue.