What is a tonsillectomy in adults?
Tonsillectomy is a surgical treatment. In the throat two pads of tissues at the back of the throat-one on each side- have been removed. In the past, it was a common treatment for tonsillitis. Now the treatment has also been used to treat sleeping-disorder breathing and also tonsillectomy.
Overall it treats breathing, enlarged tonsils, and rare disease of tonsils.
It takes 10 days to two weeks to recover after a tonsillectomy.
Why is tonsillectomy done?
- Tonsillectomy is done in the following cases
- Chronic or recurring tonsillitis
- Bleeding of tonsils
- Complications in enlarged tonsils
- Rare problems of tonsils
What is tonsillitis?
Tonsils are a part of the immune system function in the body. They are first in line in the immune system. They provide protection against bacteria and harmful infectious germs from entering the body. Because of their function, they are very vulnerable to infection and inflammation. This inflammation and infection are called tonsillitis, and the treatment given to recover this is called a tonsillectomy.
Causes of tonsillitis
Tonsillitis has been mainly caused by viral infections. In 15-30 percent of cases, it has been caused by bacterial infections.
When is tonsillectomy recommended?
- Tonsillectomy is commended when tonsillitis occurs more than normal
- When bacteria infection of tonsils can’t be treated with normal antibiotics treatment
- When infection of tonsils lead to pus formation.
Complications associated with tonsillitis
When tonsillitis becomes complicated it leads to the following conditions
- Obstructive sleep apnea is a difficulty in breathing while sleeping
- Difficulty in breathing
- Formation of cancerous tissues
- Recurrent bleeding from the blood vessels around the tonsils
- Severe bad breath owing to infection of tonsils
- These complications of tonsils are treated with tonsillectomy.
Tonsillectomy in adults
Tonsils provide immune function at the early stages of life. After puberty, the role of tonsils as a part of the immune system decreases. That’s why tonsillitis is rare among adults. But when it happens it is treated with tonsillectomy. Tonsillectomy is harder in adults as compared to children. It is because of the fact that in adults removal of tonsils is harder for a surgeon as compared to children
Why is tonsillectomy needed in adults?
In adults, tonsillectomy is needed for reasons including:
- Blockage in the upper airway owing to swollen tonsils. This results in obstructive sleep apnea or difficulty in breathing while sleeping.
- Chronic throat infection also needs a tonsillectomy. In adults, tonsillectomy is done when there is a swollen throat for the last one to three years and infection for the last three months. Sometimes tonsils get recovered by using antibiotics. But in severe cases, tonsillitis comes back as soon as treatment with antibiotics is done.
- When pus or infection in tonsils cause bad breathing, it is treated with tonsillectomy.
- When tonsillitis might lead to cancerous cells in the throat and neck.
Infection after tonsillectomy in adults
In adults, tonsillectomy can cause complications. The recovery is a bit difficult after tonsillectomy for adults as compared to children. The complication might take time to recover in adults as compared to children because children’s muscles are more flexible as far as recovery is concerned. To overcome any complications, special care is needed for tonsillectomy in adults.
Medical requirements before tonsillectomy
Before the surgery, the doctor checks the patient’s medical situation. It has been checked whether the patient has any allergies to drugs and medicines. The patient’s medical condition and normality have also been checked. Blood tests are done to check if there is any clotting problem. Family medical history has also been checked.
Before the two weeks of surgery, the doctor forbids the patient to take aspirin and other certain medicines.
Doctors ask for fasting from midnight to the night before the surgery. However liquid intake is allowed with the observation of doctors.
The procedure of tonsillectomy in adults
Tonsillectomy in adults takes thirty to forty-five minutes. The patient has been given anesthesia to avoid any pain. The surgery is done when the patient is asleep and free of any pain. Because some people are allergic to drugs. The medical history of a patient is inevitable.
The surgery is done with the help of a knife called a scalpel. The instrument helps in the genital removal of tonsils. Other than a scalpel, the instruments that use heat, are lasers. Sound and cold temperatures have also been used. These instruments are also good for surgery. The recovery time with the instruments is the same as with the scalpel.
After the surgery, the health care team checks the vital health signs such as breathing and heart rate. When the patient wakes up after the surgery. He might feel sick in the stomach or also throw up. The situation is of no worry as it is normal with anesthesia. After a few hours, when the patient starts feeling better, he can be discharged. But if there are problems with bleeding from wounds, vomiting, or difficulties in breathing, the patient is kept under observation.
Tonsillectomy in adults- what are the risks and complications after the surgery?
Although tonsillectomy is a safe surgical process, there are risks and complications associated with it like other surgeries. It has been reported in a report in 2014, that one in five adults faces few complications after tonsillectomy. These complications include
- Infection- it is rare, but in some cases it can become severe
- Swelling- after the surgery, the tongue puffs up. It causes difficulty in breathing.
- Bleeding- it is also rare. But the high bleeding can cause severe risks.
- The risk factors increases when the patient has a history of
- Pus formation around tonsils
- Use of antibiotics often in the past
- Other health problems
That’s why a complete and sophisticated medical checkup before the surgery is necessary.
Tonsillectomy in adults- recovery tips
In adults, recovery after tonsillectomy takes two weeks. However, with proper care, risks factors can be avoided. Following are a few tips for recovery from the surgery without any complications.
- Pain after the surgery is normal. The patient gets pain in the head, ear, and neck along with a sore throat. To get rid of this, the patient needs to take proper medication as prescribed by the doctor. In case of severe pain, the patient should contact the doctor immediately.
- To get rid of pain and swelling, patients should suck up ice cubes.
- After surgery, there is also a problem of dehydration. To avoid dehydration, the patient should drink plenty of water along with juices as recommended by the doctor.
- After any surgery, the patient also feels weak. To get rid of weakness after tonsillectomy, the patient should eat soups and smoothies to keep proper nutrients level in the body.
- Rest is also needed after the surgery to avoid any complications.
- Sleep at least on two or even three pillows. Elevating the head is helpful in reducing swelling after the surgery.
- In case of infection after tonsillectomy, even the minor one, the patient should immediately be concerned with the doctor.
With the proper implementation of these steps, one can recover after the surgery fastly and properly.
When should one call the doctor after a tonsillectomy?
After the surgery, the symptoms such as snoring, pain, and fever of 102-degree Fahrenheit are normal. But one should call the doctor when
- There is a fever of more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
- There is a sick feeling in the stomach and still throw up after twelve hours of the surgery.
- The patient feels lightheaded, dizzy, and headache. These are the symptoms that the patient does not have enough fluids in the body.
One should go to the emergency when
- There is trouble with breathing
- There is any kind of bleeding. Small bits of blood in the nose and spit are normal. But when there is bleeding of dark blood. One should go to the emergency room.
Can tonsillitis return after tonsillectomy?
Mostly, tonsillitis does not return after tonsillectomy. Most of the adults after the surgery have reported that they have better medical conditions. They have fewer sore throats and don’t have to use antibiotics. Overall, they have overall better health conditions.
Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy in adults
Tonsillectomy in adults is a surgery to treat tonsillitis. In the surgery, the swollen tonsils are removed. Along with the swollen tonsils, adenoids have also been removed. Adenoids are also part of the immune system. They are present in the upper mouth behind the nose. The removal of adenoids is called adenoidectomy. Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy occur in the same surgical process.
What does an adult expect from a tonsillectomy?
People go for a tonsillectomy when they have a problem of severe throat infection, bad breath, and obstructive sleep apnea. After the surgery, the patients get rid of painful infections also along with sleeping and breathing problems. They also stop taking antibiotics after the surgery. But the surgery is different for adults and children as far as the recovery time is concerned. For children, it takes one week to recover after the surgery. On the other hand, adults take two weeks to heal completely after the surgical treatment.
The surgical process of tonsillectomy is also more painful for adults as compared to children. This is because of the fact that adults have more scar tissues that are also more difficult to remove.
Is there any alternative to tonsillectomy in adults?
According to research, there is an alternative to tonsillectomy. The alternative is called tonsillotomy. The alternative has good results for children. But for adults, the useful results of the alternative are unclear.
Tonsillectomy is a surgical process to treat tonsillitis. In the procedure, both palatine tonsils are fully removed from the back of the throat of the patient. The procedure is mainly performed on patients who have recurrent tonsillitis. The process is less painful comparatively and leads to easier recovery.
Other than this, there are home remedies that are helpful in treating tonsillitis without any surgery. These home remedies include:
- Drinking plenty of warm liquids is helpful in soothing a sore throat. Ingredients such as honey, pectin, and glycerine are also helpful in sore throat.
- Eating cold and soft foods is also recommended. These help in the reduction of swellings. These foods include ice cream and yogurt. Chewing gums that contain mint and menthol is also helpful.
- Eating hard food such as snacks and crackers should not be used. These foods rub against the throat leading to an increase in infection.
- Gargling with salt water also helps in soothing the pain in the back of the throat.
- An increase in indoor humidity is also a recommendation. It reduces the dryness in the throat. Showering with warm water is also recommended.
Over-the-counter pain relievers ought to be used. These can help relieve a sore throat, fever, and other painful symptoms of tonsillitis. These pain relievers include:
- aspirin- it is not good for children
- Take plenty of rest.
- Avoid talking in a loud voice. This puts strain on the throat that worsens pain and swellings.
- Use lozenges and antiinflammatory drugs to soothe the throat.
- Throat sprays are also helpful in soothing the throat. Throat sprays contain one of the following active ingredients that are helpful.
- benzocaine, for older children and adults only
- benzyl alcohol
- cetylpyridinium chloride
- chlorhexidine gluconate
All these home remedies are helpful in reducing the pain and severity of tonsillitis.
The bottom line:
To cap it all, tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to treat tonsillitis. In the surgery, the swollen tonsils are removed. The surgery is recommended when there is severe pain and bleeding in the throat along with difficult breathing and sleeping disturbances. After the surgery, the patient gets much relief from the infection and pain. The surgery is done both on children and adults having tonsillitis. But the impact of surgery on adults is different from that on children. The adults take a longer time for recovery as compared to the children. Other than this, the surgical process is more painful for adults. To make the surgery successful, the adults, however, take the same precautionary measures as taken by the children.