How Do You Know If You Need Your Tonsils Removed?

How Do You Know If You Need Your Tonsils Removed?

Millions of people across the world undergo tonsillectomy annually.  If you are experiencing one or more of the following problems, you might consider talking with your doctor about tonsil removal:


Sleep apnea

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This is a sudden stop in breathing that happens to some individuals when they sleep. It is a potentially dangerous condition that may lead to heart attack and stroke.

In most cases, sleep apnea occurs due to large or inflamed tonsils. At other times, the condition is caused by errors in neurological communication. The former is referred to as obstructive sleep apnea, while the latter is known as central sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea may be treated through tonsillectomy. In rare cases where a person suffers from both obstructive and central apnea, a combination of the throat surgery and medication will assist.


Strep throat

Most throat pains occur as a result of infection of tonsils by streptococcus. In a few cases, the infection can be eliminated using antibiotics. If the soreness in your throat persists even after completing your prescription, it is prudent to consider having your tonsils removed.

Failure to deal properly with streptococcus infections may lead to many other problems, including kidney failure, throat cancer, and suppression of the immune system.

Other problems that often indicate the need for tonsillectomy include: persistent cough, recurrent throat infections, difficulties in swallowing, bleeding of tonsils, and excessive snoring.


The procedure

There are over 8 different tonsil removal methods that are in use today. Some of these use advanced machinery and are rarely available in less developed countries.

Dissection and Snare method is the most common, and has been in use for the longest period. Here, the surgeon uses a wire loop to hold the tonsil, then cuts its base using a pair of scissors.

In electrocautery, a special instrument is used to direct extreme heat to the glands, cutting them out in the process. If carried out successfully, most of the surrounding tissues remain unaffected. A newer version of heat treatment, known as thermal welding, is more preferable due to its higher precision and very little to no damage.

Other methods use cold treatment, laser, shaving, and ultrasonic technology. The choice of the method to pursue will depend on its availability, preferences of the patient, underlying conditions, cost, and the cause of the problem.

All these are usually done under general anesthesia.  While this significantly reduces pain during the operation, patients will feel varying levels of aching afterwards, depending on the surgery procedure used. Compared to adults, children usually experience less pain.

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Just like it has benefits, tonsillectomy also carries its own risks. They include the following:

Over bleeding

While most operations go through successfully, few end in excess bleeding, which at times may leads to death. The risk factors for excessive bleeding during surgeries include underlying conditions like anemia and diabetes.  Use of anti-inflammatory and blood thinning medication days or hours prior to the operation may raise such risks.



New infections may be introduced into the throat during or after the surgery. These might come either from the external environment or within the body of the patient.

For instance, there are chances that the patient might vomit during the procedure, thereby introducing bacteria from the gut into the open wound. Meals prepared under unhygienic conditions may also bring such effects as they pass through the throat.


Side effects

Pain is a universal side effect of tonsil removal. Because the patient is only supposed to use light sedatives, the first few days after surgery may be quite uncomfortable. However, many individuals, especially children, tend to feel normal after a day or two.

During the healing, a characteristic foul smell may also emanate from the mouth. This should not raise alarm, unless you observe pus in around the wound. In the latter case, promptly inform your doctor.

Other side effects include fever and mouth breathing.


Patient Care

Because of the pain and swelling, it may be difficult or impossible to swallow chewy foods. In fact, the patient should not take hard foods in the initial days after the procedure, as these may aggravate the situation. Instead, they should take softer meals like mashed potatoes, minced meat, and applesauce.

The body will also need a lot of liquid to heal. Dehydration can make matters worse; therefore, ensure that the patient consumes enough water.  Fruit juice and soups may also serve as alternatives for pure water.

In addition to these, the patient should also get enough rest. Stress may increase pain and lengthen the healing period, hence it should be avoided.

Note that tonsil removal is usually a last resort. Most throat problems can be solved using medication, especially during their early stages. Whenever you feel slight throat discomforts, it would be wise to go for checkup; this might spare you the inconvenience of undergoing tonsillectomy.

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