I consider myself lucky. I’ve only once been admitted to the hospital in my life. At age ten, I stayed for three days to have my tonsils removed. I had reoccurring bouts of tonsillitis that lead my doctor to remove both the tonsils and the adenoids.
From what I understand, this type of surgery is less common these days, though I can’t say for sure. I do know that a lot of the health problems I had cleared up after the surgery. This procedure is most commonly done for children who are having health issues caused by the tonsils, but is occasionally done for adults as well.
What Do Tonsils Do?
Your tonsils are located in the back of your throat. You usually can’t see them, but they might be visible if they are swollen. These are generally most useful in the first years of our lives. They are there as a first defense against germs entering the body. They are meant to filter germs but can often become infected themselves, leading to complications.
These complications are often recurring ear, nose, and throat infections. When the tonsils swell, they can partially block the throat, making swallowing and breathing difficult and sometimes painful.
The signs of tonsillitis can be confused with common colds or strep throat. The problem is that the tonsils are usually causing these ailments. The first thing you may notice is that the tonsils are enlarged. They may be covered with a whitish film. Sore throat and trouble swallowing may occur along with bad breath. There may also be some swelling in the neck and throat.
When Are They Removed?
A person with enlarged tonsils will breath more through their mouth because they cannot draw in enough air. If the tonsils are infected, they will cause infections in the ears and throat that are reoccurring and painful. If a person has three to five (or more) tonsil-related illnesses a year, they are good candidates for tonsillectomy.
Bouts of tonsillitis are often first treated with antibiotics. These sometimes work but only in the short term. If a person is consistently dealing with enlarged tonsils, a doctor may choose to remove them.
If Surgery Is Needed
Adults generally have an idea what surgery will entail and their doctor will explain everything. For a child however, this can be a daunting experience, especially if they have never been in the hospital before.
Take some time to talk with your child about what is going to happen. Your doctor will have charts or pictures you can show your child so they better understand what the surgery will entail. Reassure them if they are scared. Let them know that 400,000 kids have the surgery each year, so they are not alone. They will notice nothing different about themselves after it is over, except that they won’t be getting sick as often as they used to.
Your child’s stay in the hospital will depend on a variety of factors. When I had my tonsils removed over twenty years ago, I stayed for three days. Today, a tonsillectomy is considered an outpatient procedure and there may be no hospital stay required.
After The Surgery
Pain in the throat and ears should be expected after the surgery. Your child may not want to eat for a day or two, and might be given a special diet by your doctor. If there is any bleeding after your child is released from the hospital, you should call in and let the surgeon know. Recovery may take up to a week. Follow your doctor’s advice about recovery and follow-up care.
This is a guide only and not meant to be medical advice. Please direct your medical questions and concerns to your physician.