Is Tonsil Surgery a Good Idea for Adults?

ENT Issues | Corpus Christi ENT Sinus & Allergy

Close up of young woman rubbing her inflamed tonsils, tonsilitis problem

Many adults are surprised when their ENT proposes a tonsillectomy. They ask, isn’t that something for children? Or, is there an age limit for tonsil removal in adults? A tonsillectomy can actually be conducted on anyone of any age. Your provider will look at the state of your tonsils and your specific symptoms rather than your age.

There might be some drawbacks to tonsil surgery just like with any other surgery. As a result, it’s a good plan to talk over your questions with your ENT, and thoroughly talk over what will happen during your tonsil surgery.

What is a tonsillectomy?

When you get a tonsillectomy, your tonsils will be surgically removed. Maybe that sounds pretty straightforward. But there’s more to it than that. Your tonsils are two lymph nodes at the back of your throat. Your body is full of lymph nodes and your tonsils are a special instance of these lymph nodes.

Lymph nodes are there to shield you from infection and sickness and that goes for your tonsils too. Your tonsils may become swollen as they intercept germs (you can sometimes identify this with other lymph nodes, too, it’s the reason why your doctor feels around your neck when you go in for a checkup).

Your tonsils are cautiously taken out when you have a tonsillectomy.

When is it appropriate for an adult to undergo a tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy surgery isn’t done as often as it once was for numerous reasons (they’re actually pretty common still, with around 500,000 procedures being carried out each year.).

In adults, there are several signs you need to have your tonsils taken out, including the following:

  • Chronic infections: Your tonsils are meant to help you filter out germs before they can trigger an infection or illness. But sometimes, your tonsils will actually cause an infection by doing too good of a job. Completely extracting the tonsils is often the best way to address these persistent infections.
  • You have sleep apnea: Breathing problems, especially sleep apnea, can sometimes be caused by your tonsils. When you have sleep apnea, your airway becomes obstructed while you sleep (normally, this causes restless nights and snoring, but it can sometimes cause death). The airways will be clear when the tonsils are removed and you will get a more peaceful night’s sleep.
  • Your tonsils are damaged: In some cases, damage, such as an abscess or sore, can be a source of distress and a cause for concern when it comes to your health. In these cases, your ENT might recommend having your tonsils extracted.
  • Your tonsils are asymmetrical: Your tonsils should be about equal in size. So it’s most likely a sign that you need to get some treatment if one of your tonsils grows bigger than the other (it could also suggest a more serious medical issue). Your doctor may suggest the removal of one or more of your tonsils if one grows larger than the other.

What are the advantages and drawbacks of tonsillectomy

When it comes to a tonsillectomy, as with any surgical procedure, there are advantages and disadvantages. What those advantages and disadvantages look like will depend on the reason your tonsils are removed in the first place.

But there are some drawbacks to surgery. So what are the negative aspects of tonsillectomy in adults? Here are a few of the most common:

  • Discomfort: How painful is tonsil surgery in adults? It isn’t unusual for this surgery to cause some pain. Some evidence indicates that kids generally feel less pain from this surgery than adults (precisely why this is, isn’t well understood).
  • Complications: Tonsillectomy, like any surgery, comes with a risk of complications. Be sure to speak with your provider about what those complications may be.
  • Recovery: Tonsillectomy surgery will typically take a bit of time to recuperate from. Even though the surgery will likely take place on an outpatient basis, that doesn’t mean the discomfort will recede in a day. You can normally expect a 10-14 day recovery period after a tonsillectomy surgery.

Should you get a tonsillectomy?

So, is it worth removing tonsils in adults? Each case needs to be taken on an individual basis. It depends on your general health, your symptoms, and what your doctor thinks you should do.

In many cases, a tonsillectomy can represent a positive path forward and improve your overall wellness. If you’re having chronic sore throats, are suffering from sleep apnea, or are worried about your tonsil health, give us a call today.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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