Though tonsil removal is more common among kids and teenagers, adults can experience issues with their tonsils as well. A tonsillectomy is the removal of the tonsils which are a pair of glands in the back of the throat. These small glands are an important part of the body’s immune system. They help trap bacteria and germs that enter the body through the mouth or nose, preventing infections. But the tonsils can experience inflammation and infection which may lead to a tonsillectomy, a surgical procedure that adults can also benefit from.
Reasons for a Tonsillectomy
Most people have experienced strep throat which is a type of infection that the tonsils can be affected by. These infections can produce symptoms like difficulty breathing which are long-lasting and may require a tonsillectomy. A few additional reasons that adults may need a tonsillectomy to include the following:
- Chronic infections: the most common reason an adult receives a tonsillectomy is because of chronic throat infections. Tonsillitis is the infection and swelling of the tonsils which is caused by a virus or bacteria. This produces various symptoms including inflamed tonsils, sore throat, pain, fever, and difficulty swallowing. Antibiotics are typically prescribed to treat a bacterial infection. Though this can treat and clear symptoms, people can experience recurring infections. A tonsillectomy could be an effective treatment option to address the chronic infection. Adults who have received a tonsillectomy often report having experienced consistent sore throats for 1 to 3 years.
- Sleep apnea: is a sleep disorder that is characterized by breathing that repeatedly stops during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax, causing the airways to become narrow as you breathe in. This reduces the amount of air you receive, lowering oxygen levels. The brain realizes this and wakes the individual suddenly from their sleep so the airways can reopen. The muscles that contribute to this include the tonsils.
- Remove growths: specific viruses can cause masses or growths to develop on the tonsils. These growths can be cancerous which would require removal.
Additional reasons that could lead to a tonsillectomy include resistance to antibiotics or pus that has accumulated on the tonsils which cause bad breath.
What to Expect from a Tonsillectomy
A tonsillectomy is the same surgical procedure for kids and adults. The procedure involves the total or partial removal of the tonsils which is discussed during the consultation. You can expect the following from a tonsillectomy:
- Procedure: a tonsillectomy is conducted under general anesthesia and takes up to 45 minutes. Surgeons may use different tools to remove tonsils – scalpel (a small knife), heat, laser, or soundwaves which are methods that work effectively and involve the same recovery time. This is performed as an outpatient surgery which means that patients go home the same day.
- Recovery: adults require up to 2 weeks to recover which is more than children and teens as adult tonsils are slightly larger. Recovery tips include taking over-the-counter medications to alleviate pain, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, eating soft foods, and avoiding engaging in strenuous activity.
- Risks: a tonsillectomy is a safe procedure for adults. Like all surgeries, there are risks involved. This includes dehydration, pain, and bleeding – the sign to look out for after this surgery. It typically takes up to one week for scabs that formed over the raw mussels to fall off which is when bleeding can occur. But if bleeding continues, it is important to consult with your doctor immediately.
- Benefits: a tonsillectomy is an effective way of preventing chronic infection. Once the tonsils are removed, they cannot experience infection or inflammation. This alleviates chronic tonsil-related issues that people may experience. Adults who have had the surgery report experiencing fewer sore throats, using fewer antibiotics, missing a few days of work, and overall enhanced health.
If you experience sore throats, chronic infections, or any other throat-related issues, it is important to be thoroughly assessed by a specialist. We offer comprehensive diagnostic evaluations that identify underlying conditions. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. Our experts can help determine if a tonsillectomy can be an effective treatment option for you.