Tonsils are the two small glands located on each side of the back of the throat. They act as a defense mechanism and prevent the body from infection. When these tonsils get infected it is called tonsillitis. This can occur in any age but is most common in children between preschool to midteens. Tonsillitis can cause sore throat, fever, painful swallowing, and swollen glands around the neck. Doctor may prescribe antibiotics or in severe cases a tonsillectomy might be required to cure the condition like breathing problems, frequent or heavy snoring, sleep apnea or cancer of the tonsils. Some other symptoms of tonsillitis may include:
· Hoarse voice
· Bad breath
· Stiff neck
· White or yellow spots near tonsils
· Irritability, poor appetite or excessive drooling seen in children.
There are mainly two types of tonsillitis:
· Recurrent tonsillitis – multiple episodes of acute tonsillitis over a year
· Chronic tonsillitis – episode that last longer than acute tonsillitis.
This condition is contagious and can be caused by a variety of common viruses and bacteria which are when left untreated can cause serious complications.
Doctor will examine the patient’s throat and may also take a throat culture by swabbing the back of the throat gently. This can help in identifying the cause of throat infection. Patient will be advised to stop taking anti-inflammatory medicines at least two weeks back to avoid any risk of bleeding during and after the surgery. Tonsillectomy procedure usually takes about a half hour and is done under the general anesthesia.
Tonsils can be removed through different methods:
1. Cold knife dissection- this is the common method in which surgeon will remove the tonsil with a scalpel.
2. Tonsillectomy – is another common method that involves burning away the tissues through cauterization. In some cases, ultrasonic vibration is also used along tonsillectomy procedures.
After the surgery, patient may experience some pain in jaw, ears or neck or might have sore throat hence should take plenty of rest for at least 2-3 days. Doctor will recommend some medicines to relieve pain and some antibiotics to prevent any infections. Patient will be advised to sip water or eat ice pops to stay hydrated, do gargles with warm salty water several times a day and should add more fluid or soft food to diet for few days. Patient can resume their normal work within two weeks after the surgery.
There are few common risks involved with tonsillectomy surgery such as:
· Reaction to anesthesia
· Swelling of the tongue or roof of the mouth