What is a tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. Tonsils are two small glands located in the back of your throat. Tonsils house white blood cells to help you fight infection, but sometimes the tonsils themselves become infected.
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils that can make your tonsils swell and give you a sore throat. Frequent episodes of tonsillitis might be a reason you need to have a tonsillectomy. Other symptoms of tonsillitis include fever, trouble swallowing, and swollen glands around your neck. Your doctor may notice that your throat is red and your tonsils are covered in a whitish or yellow coating. Sometimes, the swelling can go away on its own. In other cases, antibiotics or a tonsillectomy might be necessary.
A tonsillectomy can also be a treatment for breathing problems, like heavy snoring and sleep apnea.
Who needs a tonsillectomy?
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.
One case of tonsillitis is not enough to warrant a tonsillectomy. Usually, the surgery is a treatment option for those who are often sick with tonsillitis or strep throat. If you’ve had at least seven cases of tonsillitis or strep in the last year (or five cases or more over each of the last two years), talk to your doctor about whether a tonsillectomy is an option for you.
Tonsillectomy can also treat other medical problems, including:
- breathing problems related to swollen tonsils
- frequent and loud snoring
- periods in which you stop breathing during sleep, or sleep apnea
- bleeding of the tonsils
- cancer of the tonsils
What is adenoidectomy?
Adenoidectomy is the surgical removal of the adenoids for reasons which include impaired breathing through the nose, chronic infections, or recurrent earaches. The surgery is less commonly performed in adults in whom adenoids are considered vestigial and purposeless. It is most often done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. Post-operative pain is generally minimal and reduced by icy or cold foods. The procedure can be combined with tonsillectomy if indicated and recovery time can range from several hours to two or three days (though as age increases so does recovery time).
Adenoidectomy is not often performed under one year of age as adenoid function is part of the body's immune system but its contribution to this decreases progressively beyond this age.