Tonsils and Adenoids

What is a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy? 

A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) is surgery that is done to remove the tonsils and adenoids. Each person has 2 tonsils, one on each side of the back of the throat. They look like reddish, oval-shaped masses and are easy to see. The adenoids are high in the throat behind the nose and the roof of the mouth and cannot be seen without special equipment. The tonsils and adenoids help the body fight respiratory infections, such as colds. However, they can be removed without changing the body’s ability to fight infection. 

When is it used? 

Reasons for doing a T&A are: 

  • snoring at night because of enlarged tonsils or adenoids 
  • frequent infections of the tonsils and tonsiliths
  • frequent sinus or middle ear infections
  • trouble swallowing because of enlarged tonsils 
  • possible cancer of the tonsils. 

How do I prepare for a tonsillectomy? 

Find someone to drive you home after the surgery. Allow for time to rest and try to find people to help you with your day-to-day duties. 

If you are a smoker, you should quit at least 2 weeks before the procedure. Also, your wounds will heal much better if you do not smoke after the surgery. 

If you are taking daily aspirin for a medical condition, you need to stop aspirin one week before surgery. This helps avoid extra bleeding during surgery. 

 

What happens during the procedure? 

Before the operation starts, you will be given a general anesthetic. This drug relaxes your muscles and causes a deep sleep. It will keep you from feeling pain during the procedure. 

The surgeon will use a tool to keep your mouth open and expose the tonsils in the back of your throat. Then he or she will remove the tonsils and/or adenoids from the surrounding tissues with coblation

What happens after the procedure? 

You may go home later that day or stay in the hospital overnight and go home the next day, depending on your condition. You will have a sore throat and be uncomfortable for about 7 to 10 days. Sometimes, the pain may be felt in the ears but it does not mean you have an ear problem. It will hurt to swallow. Spend this time at home and avoid all strenuous activity for at least 2 weeks. Avoid eating fried, spicy and “heaty” food for about 10 days. “Cooling” food like ice cream and yogurt helps to lessen the pain. 

What are the risks associated with this procedure? 

  • The major and most common risk is that as your throat heals and the scabs come off, your throat may bleed. The can occur in about 3-4% of cases. If this happens, spit the blood out. Do not swallow it.
  • You may become dehydrated if you are unable to swallow. 

When should I call my ENT Specialist?

Call your doctor right away if: 

  • The bleeding continues for more than 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • You become dehydrated.
  • You develop a fever over 38.5°C. 

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