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Tonsils (or palatine tonsils) are a set of lymphoid tissues inside your mouth at the back of your throat. There is one on each side of the tongue behind your wisdom teeth. Tonsils are vital for the human body to fight infections. If your throat and nose got an infection the tissue of tonsils become swollen. In case of numerous infections of these organs they become scarred and may remain over swollen, causing throat ache. Further symptoms are ear ache, deafness, headache, bad breath, loss of appetite, snoring etc.
If infections occur regularly the swelling might not end. In that case the tonsils need to be removed. If the tonsils are treated with antibiotics, most of the times it can be only useful for temporary healing, but not for the prevention of further infections. In order to avoid further problems, surgical removal is needed. Fortunately, our body can still fight infections without tonsils, because the required tissues can be found all over the body.
A tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. The adenoids may or may not be removed at the same time. The surgery takes about 30-40 minutes.
You will also have consultation with your anesthesiologist and internist before your operation to ensure that you overall health condition is sufficient to undergo surgery and general anesthetics.
There are several ways to remove tonsils, the most common method is called “dissection and snare method.” In this case, your surgeon removes your tonsils with a scalpel, when the tonsils are completely removed and the remaining tissue surface is cauterized.
The aim and also the benefit of these removals are to get rid of long lasting infections. Without the removals you may need to take more antibiotics and you may still get tonsillitis later on.
Normal or expected risks of tonsillectomy include some bleeding after surgery. This is common, especially when the healed scab over the cut area falls off.
Tonsillitis and the need for tonsillectomies are more common in children than adults. However, people of any age can experience trouble with their tonsils and require surgery. Your ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeon will advise tonsil removal if it is necessary based on your symptoms, medical history and physical examination.
If you are taking medicine to prevent blood clotting than you are not allowed to have tonsil removal.
You will need to stop taking anti-inflammatory medicines two weeks before your surgery. This type of medication includes aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Drugs of this kind can increase your risk of bleeding during and after your surgery. You should let your doctor know about any medications or vitamins you are taking. Prepare a list of all of your symptoms and any medical conditions, past sickness and allergies. For this reason, you will receive a detailed medical history form to fill in. You’ll also need to fast after midnight before your tonsillectomy, because an empty stomach reduces the risk of feeling nauseous from the anesthetic.
It is normal if you feel yourself slow and clumsy for about a day because of the general anesthetic. Generally, the throat is slightly sore. Two-three hours after the operation you will be already able to drink, and later on to eat too. In the first few weeks you need to avoid catching a cold and hard physical activities. For the first two weeks after the surgery, there is a small risk of bleeding.
The post-operative check-up with an ENT surgeon should be one week after the surgery.