Palatine tonsils, located at the top of the throat, work with other tonsils in the mouth to catch germs, like viruses and bacteria, and prevent them from entering your nose and mouth. Most people go their entire life without even thinking about their tonsils, but for some, tonsils can be a source of discomfort or recurring illness.
If your ENT doctor recommends a tonsillectomy, here are four things you should know.
What is a Tonsillectomy?
One of the most common procedures for an ENT doctor is the tonsillectomy. A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure during which ear nose and throat doctors remove the palatine tonsils from a patient. Removal is done by using a scalpel, cauterization, or ultrasonic vibrations to cut the tonsils.
Doctors remove the palatine tonsils of both children and adults, with the procedure being more common among children. Tonsillectomies are usually performed as day surgeries, and take around 30 minutes to complete, though the time period may be longer if your ENT doctor needs to perform other procedures at the same time. Most patients are in the hospital for a few hours to half a day and are cleared to go home the day of the surgery.
Why are Tonsils Removed?
There are a number of reasons your ENT doctor may recommend you for a tonsillectomy, some of which include recurrent infections, chronic tonsillitis, chronic obstructive symptoms (snoring), severe infections, and abnormal tonsil enlargement.
How to Prepare for Tonsillectomy
Before your tonsillectomy, your ENT doctor will discuss the risks and benefits associated with tonsil surgery and help you determine how best to prepare. Generally, doctors advise their patients to avoid taking anti-inflammatory medications for up to two weeks prior to their surgery. Additionally, you will probably be asked to fast the night before your surgery.
A tonsillectomy is done under general anesthesia, so you will remain asleep and feel no pain during the procedure.
Recovery Period for a Tonsillectomy
For most patients, a tonsillectomy will cause a sore throat for seven to 10 days following the surgery, and your voice should return to normal within two to six weeks. Immediately following the procedure and for the next day or so, it is normal to see blood in saliva and some patients experience fevers of up to 102 degrees.
Pain medication may be prescribed based upon your needs, and it should always be taken exactly as directed. Most patients are able to take over-the-counter pain relievers in addition to prescription medication, but be sure to check with your doctor as you recover.
Dehydration is one of the most common side effects of surgery, especially in children, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids during the recovery process. Your doctor will also discuss what types of food you should be eating and what you should avoid during your recovery period.