What Do The Tonsils Do?
The tonsils are small clusters of tissue at the back of the throat that help catch germs. Tonsils are part of the immune system and prevent bacteria and viruses from entering the body. Tonsil removal is more common in children because children are at higher risk of problems when the glands grow too large. However, some signs indicate that an adult may need a tonsillectomy.
1. Chronic snoring
Many people aren’t aware of constant snoring until a partner points out the symptom. And while snoring can be annoying, the issue often runs deeper than a simple nuisance. Snoring can point to an underlying condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by intermittent lapses in breathing throughout the night. Left untreated, the condition can lead to heart disease, stroke, or other complications.
2. Constant infections
Tonsillitis is an infection that occurs when the tonsils become inflamed and swollen. Typically, patients have difficulty swallowing, experience a very sore throat, and may have a fever. Up to 30% of these infections are caused by bacteria. Tonsillitis is typically treated with antibiotics. If a person is catching an infection more than 5 times annually, consider having the tonsils removed. One study found that only 4% of adults who had tonsillectomies needed to return to the doctor for a sore throat. In contrast, 43% of those who did not have the surgery required repeat visits.
3. Abnormal growths
Some conditions and infections can cause cancers in the back of the throat. Particularly at the base of the tongue and tonsils, any lump or bump out of the norm is a cause for concern. Sometimes, a tonsillectomy is needed to rule out disease when there is an abnormal mass.
What is a tonsillectomy?
Simply put, a tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. Usually, the operation is an outpatient procedure, meaning people can go home the same day. The surgery takes about 30 minutes and can involve using a scalpel, cauterization tool, or ultrasonic vibration. Patients will be instructed to take anti-inflammatory medicines up to 2 weeks before surgery and fast the night before the procedure.
What to expect: relief
A tonsillectomy is a safe, effective treatment for chronic infections, breathing problems, or snoring. While a patient may need some help in the first few days after surgery, recovery is usually quick and free of complication. To learn more about tonsil removal, speak with a healthcare provider such as an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.