When Should I Remove My Tonsils?
Your tonsils are part of your immune system. They consist of two oval-shaped pads of tissue, one situated on each side of the throat. They are the first line of defense against viruses and bacteria that would otherwise infiltrate your body through your nose and mouth.
In relatively rare situations, your tonsils can become infected. Children are more likely than adults to be affected, but tonsillitis may occur at any time of life. Surgery is not necessary in some cases of tonsillitis.
Can Medication Be Used in Place of Tonsil Surgery?
The body may sometimes be able to weather tonsillitis without tonsil surgery. Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a virus, not by bacteria, which means no medication can eliminate the root cause. Medication can only be used to make the symptoms more bearable.
If you develop symptoms of tonsillitis, you should seek medical attention right away. Your doctor will keep an eye on the situation and discuss your tonsil treatment options. Only in certain specific cases do most doctors consider tonsillectomy surgery warranted.
Why Should I Get My Tonsils Removed?
There are three major situations where tonsil removal is used:
First, if the tonsil infection recurs, it may be a good idea to have tonsils removed. Sometimes, a certain area of the body may simply become prone to infection and require more intensive care. In many of these cases, the associated symptoms become severe and painful over time.
Second, if there are significant complications arising from the tonsil infection, a tonsillectomy may be required to protect the patient. Two rare, but serious complications include the development of a tumor or of a pus-filled lesion called an abscess. The latter can be very painful.
Third, tonsils can be removed for reasons other than infection. This is most common if your tonsils have become enlarged, which may happen without any other symptoms.
Removal is called for if enlarged tonsils cause disordered breathing that affects sleep quality.
Preparation for Tonsillectomy
Tonsil removal is a relatively simple procedure, and there are few special steps you’ll need to take. Tell your doctor about any current medications or health conditions as well as any family history of bleeding disorders or reactions to anesthesia.
Most patients will be advised to discontinue use of blood thinning medications for at least two weeks prior to surgery. You should also avoid eating anything after midnight the day before your procedure.
Recovery Time for Tonsillectomy
Although tonsillectomy is not complex, it does involve a significant recovery period. It is a good idea to plan for 10-14 days of recovery. Most patients will be prescribed medicine for pain management and eat a limited diet consisting of liquid and liquid-like foods. Patients must be prepared to avoid hard, crunchy, spicy, or acidic foods until full recovery is complete.
Are There Any Risks of Tonsillectomy?
Risks of tonsillectomy are minor and do not compare to the risks of leaving damaged tonsils untreated. Swelling of the tongue and soft palate near the surgery site may cause some difficulty breathing or swallowing. Minor bleeding usually occurs both in surgery and during healing. On very rare occasions, an infection may occur at a surgical incision site and should be treated promptly.
If you believe you have tonsillitis and would like to know more about treatment options, make an appointment today with Lakeside Allergy ENT. Our experienced ear, nose, and throat physicians can identify and treat tonsil issues you may be having.