Many people will contract a tonsil infection at one point or another. When the severity or frequency of these infections interferes with everyday life, though, you may need to have your tonsils removed. This procedure is called a tonsillectomy.
Dr. Schubkegel has decades of experience in otolaryngology and is highly qualified to assess and address any issues you may be facing with your tonsils, whether they need basic treatment for a single infection or they need to be removed completely.
- What are tonsils and why do we need them?
- What is a tonsillectomy?
- When is it needed?
- What will a tonsil removal procedure feel like?
- What is recovery like after tonsil removal?
- At what age should tonsils be removed?
- Are there risks to getting a tonsillectomy?
- How can I prepare for my tonsil removal?
Common Questions about Tonsillectomy
What are tonsils and why do we need them?
Tonsils are pieces of soft tissue which sit at the back of your throat—one on each side. They are a part of the immune system, fighting germs which enter the body through the nose and mouth. When viruses or bacteria enter the tonsils themselves, this infection is called tonsillitis.
What is a tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. While tonsils play a role in the immune system, people can live perfectly normal and healthy lives without them. If you are in need of a tonsillectomy or are having issues with your tonsils, Dr. Schubkegel will sit down with you to review your options, answer any and all questions, and determine the best solution to bring you to optimal health.
When is a tonsillectomy needed?
Getting infected tonsils from time to time is normal. If you have recurrent or severe tonsil infections, or if the size of your tonsils leads to other health concerns such as sleep apnea, you may need to get them removed.
Chronic tonsillitis is generally defined as having five or more of infections in one year, or at least three cases a year over the course of two years. Symptoms of tonsillitis include a sore throat, fever, red and swollen tonsils, and a white or yellow coating on the tonsils. If you have recurrent tonsillitis, chronic throat pain, snoring, or problems breathing at night because of the size of your tonsils, Dr. Schubkegel will first try other treatments such as antibiotics or decongestants to get to the root of the problem. If there’s no improvement and you continue to be symptomatic, he will look at surgical options to remove the tonsils in order to prevent future infections.
For patients with chronic tonsillitis, the benefits of removing the tonsils are often worth getting a tonsillectomy. However, Dr. Schubkegel understands that each patient is unique, and he will work with you individually to determine the best course of action and a treatment plan you are comfortable with.
What will a tonsil removal procedure feel like?
At your tonsillectomy consultation, Dr. Schubkegel will sit down with you to discuss the tonsil removal procedure, including how to prepare, what to expect on the day of the surgery, and the plan of action for recovery.
The tonsillectomy procedure itself takes about a half hour under general anesthesia, typically at a surgery center—you will not be awake for the procedure. Dr. Schubkegel’s office uses ultrasonic instrumentation for the removal, which typically leads to less blood loss than traditional removal techniques.
What is recovery like after tonsil removal?
You will be able to go home the same day of your tonsillectomy procedure. Your throat will feel very sore and you will likely need pain medicine. Typically, recovery time will be about a week, after which you may still experience a minor sore throat. However, every patient is different, and you may need more than one week post-procedure.
Prior to the tonsillectomy, be sure to clear your schedule to allow for plenty of sleep and rest for one week post-treatment—you should not work during that time. After surgery, you will need to stick to softer foods such as popsicles, smoothies, ice cream, etc. You should gradually work back into your normal eating routine.
Dr. Schubkegel will see you for a follow-up appointment a few weeks after the procedure to ensure your throat is healing well and address any final questions.
At what age should tonsils be removed?
Although the majority of tonsillectomies are performed on children, the procedure can also be beneficial for adults. If needed, children and adults alike can safely have their tonsils removed. There is no ideal age for a tonsil removal—if symptoms are interfering with a patient’s everyday life, Dr. Schubkegel will assess the need for removal.
Are there risks to getting a tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed. As with any surgical procedure, though, there are some risks associated with a tonsillectomy.
Risks include bleeding, swelling, infection, or a reaction to the general anesthesia used for treatment. These are rare, and Dr. Schubkegel will review them with you thoroughly, walking you through any questions or concerns prior to scheduling the procedure.
How can I prepare for my tonsil removal?
Prior to your tonsillectomy, Dr. Schubkegel will thoroughly outline how to prepare for the procedure, both mentally and physically. You will need to disclose any over-the-counter medications that you take regularly, such as aspirin, as well as any herbs or vitamins that are a part of your routine. Dr. Schubkegel will also review any reactions or allergies you have to medication.
Starting at midnight the night before surgery, you will not be able to eat anything. You will also receive instructions about bathing before the procedure—no makeup, hair products, or earrings should be worn to your appointment.
Always refer to the materials and instructions provided by Dr. Schubkegel regarding your surgery preparation and recovery—he will ensure that they are tailor-made to your body and your unique health needs.