Having a recurring sore throat or sleep-disordered breathing can be a sign of tonsil inflammation, also known as tonsillitis. Even though tonsils are an important part of the body, sometimes a doctor will recommend tonsil removal, a procedure called a tonsillectomy.
When to Have Tonsils Removed
Patients of any age — children and adults — can have a tonsillectomy. According to The Nemours Foundation, constant visits to the doctor because of sore throats, difficulty swallowing or patchy, white blisters on the tonsils could signal a patient has tonsillitis. The tonsils may be enlarged, which can lead to snoring, and a patient may have a slight fever or neck pain.
To eliminate these symptoms, a doctor may suggest the patient has their tonsils removed. If you are having recurring problems with your tonsils or throat, consult a dental or medical professional.
An ear, nose and throat doctor will most likely conduct the procedure in an outpatient surgical center. The surgery usually lasts between one and two hours and the patient will be sent home shortly after the operation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a few steps that a patient should take prior to surgery. They should avoid any intake of medications containing aspirin for two weeks prior to the procedure and should provide their doctor a list of medications they take regularly. The patient will receive instructions from their doctor regarding how long to refrain from eating and drinking before surgery.
On the day of the surgery, the patient will be sedated by an anesthesiologist through an IV prior to the doctor's treatment. The doctor will remove both left and right tonsils from the back of the throat. Afterwards, the patient will likely feel soreness and experience some swelling. They should plan for at least 10 days of recovery time.
Care After a Tonsillectomy
After a few days, scabs will form where the incisions were in the mouth. The doctor may prescribe painkillers to help relieve rawness and soreness in the patient's throat. It is imperative to drink lots of ice water and cold fluids after tonsil removal, but avoid drinking through straws, as it may be difficult. Eating soft foods and ice pops may help avoid irritation in the area. If the patient loses weight, they should try drinking nutritional beverages to add some calories to their diet.
The patient must be careful to not eat chips, nuts or foods that can be sharp in the back of the throat. Postoperative bleeding can occur, and in severe situations it may require a trip to the emergency room. For at least two weeks after the tonsillectomy, the patient should stay mostly at rest and allow their throat to heal before resuming activities. The doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to check on the patient's healing.
Removing the tonsils — which can be as long as two to three inches across — can bring relief to patients with tonsillitis. After the procedure, they can look forward to fewer sore throats and resolved snoring issues. Always speak with your dentist or doctor if you're concerned about your sore throat or sleep troubles.