By Dr. Max Gomez

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Every year, nearly half a million kids have their tonsils removed. New guidelines are helping doctors and parents make better decisions about who needs surgery and who doesn’t, Dr. Max Gomez reports.

Valentina Tomasino, 6, is feeling fine now but she’s dealt with a lot of pain. “I felt like my throat had something clogging it and it hurts.”

“She had trouble sleeping because she couldn’t breathe being that her tonsils were so large,” explained her mother, Mariana Nuziale.

Valentina had throat infection after throat infection so her doctor recommended taking her tonsils out. Tonsillectomy is one of the most common surgeries for children in the U.S., but now new guidelines say it’s not always necessary.

“Most kids with frequent throat infections often do better on their own if you do wait it out,” said guideline author Dr. Richard Rosenfeld of Long Island College Hospital.

Doctors have long disagreed on whether or not tonsillectomies make a difference. Still, every year more than half a million children in the U.S. have their tonsils removed.

The new guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology say children who have at least 7 throat infections a year are good candidates for surgery. So are children like Valentina who have tonsils so large, their breathing is obstructed at night.

“There are lots of kids who don’t sleep well at night, who are having trouble in school they’re not performing as well as they should, they really need careful assessment,” Rosenfeld said.

Valentina said she was sick of being sick and missing school. “Now I’m a little more happier because I go to school and my throat doesn’t hurt anymore.”

And she hasn’t had a throat infection in months.