Should I have a tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy surgery has been performed for thousands of years. The technique has been refined, and currently there are various different devices as well as conventional electrocautery that could be used to remove the tonsils.

Patients often contemplate if their tonsils are problematic enough to consider tonsillectomy. A few decades ago, tonsillectomy procedures were very common. Many pediatric patients had their tonsils taken out at the slightest sign of sore throats or strep throats. Later, the pendulum swept the other way, and a recommendation was made by most doctors to have a watch and wait attitude for the tonsils. Many patients who perhaps should have had their tonsils taken out did not have the procedure due to the prevailing attitude of conservative management.

There are currently two reasons for most patients to consider tonsillectomy. The first is relating to repeated bouts of infection. Severely frequent infections in the past year or otherwise frequent infections for few years are indications to consider tonsillectomy. The numbers recommended by medical guidelines are exactly that: guidelines. No patient is forced to have their tonsils out the minute they meet those guidelines, and conversely patients don’t necessarily have to wait and suffer multiple times if it looks like they will eventually meet the guidelines for tonsillectomy.

The second reason for people to consider tonsillectomy is issues relating to obstruction. Many patients, pediatric and adult, have rather large tonsils which give them issues with breathing as well as snoring and possible sleep apnea. Removing the tonsils, as well as possible adenoidectomy in the pediatric population, can open up the airways and allow for more smooth breathing during the course of the night.

It is best to consult with an ear, nose and throat specialist to review your symptoms and to determine together if this procedure would be helpful in your particular situation. Most ear, nose and throat surgeons are capable of discussing the benefits and the expectations with you before undertaking any kinds of procedure.

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Posted in: Sleep Apnea, Tonsil


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