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Tonsillectomy - When Should You Go For It?

MBBS, MS - ENT
ENT Specialist, Delhi  •  18 years experience
Tonsillectomy - When Should You Go For It?

The tonsils are soft tissue masses which are located at the back of your throat, usually at the pharynx. The tonsils are masses which are part of the lymphatic system that helps fight infections. However, tonsils can themselves become inflamed and cause a lot of pain. Tonsillectomy is a procedure to remove the tonsils and relieve pain.

Why is tonsillectomy performed?
A few decades back, tonsillectomy was a routine surgery performed to relieve any pain within the tonsils. This method of treatment however has changed over the past few decades as pain medications for inflammation have improved vastly. However, tonsillitis is still performed in many cases wherein it tends to cause acute problems. Some of the cases it is applicable in are:

  1. Chronic bad breath problems caused by recurrent inflammation of the tonsils
  2. Recurrent sore throats caused by tonsillitis
  3. It is also done along with dental surgery for correcting teeth with imperfect positioning
  4. Abscess formation in the mouth
  5. Upper airway being obstructed due to inflammation, thus causing difficulty with sleeping, snoring, or causing sleep apnea (irregular breathing during sleep)
  6. Ear infections being regularly caused by inflammation of the tonsils

Other reasons why it may be recommended
Tonsillectomy may be also be recommended when there are no indications of problems but tonsillitis and other infections keep cropping up too regularly. This affects children and can make them sick or keep them in pain regularly. Some of these other indications are mentioned below:

  1. Tonsil infections and inflammations happening too frequently within a year
  2. Tonsillitis is caused by bacterial infection wherein the antibiotics aren’t effective
  3. Formation of pus in the form of an abscess within or around the tonsils which keep forming even after repeated drainage or administering antibiotics

Possible complications and risks
Like any other form of surgery, tonsillectomy has certain risks associated with it as well. However, these are very rare. Some of these risks and complications are mentioned as follows –

  1. Swelling of the mouth: The tongue and the soft palate or the roof of the mouth may swell, resulting in breathing difficulties an few hours after the surgery.
  2. Infection: As is the case with any surgery, infections may occur in rare cases, which may require further treatment.
  3. Adverse reactions to anesthetics: Many patients exhibit an adverse reaction to anesthetics and may develop symptoms such as a headache, nausea, muscle soreness and frequent vomiting.
  4. Bleeding during surgery or healing: Although it is rare, bleeding during and after surgery has been reported after all sorts of procedures and it may occur with tonsillectomy as well. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an ENT specialist.
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