Tonsillectomy in adults is a surgical procedure that is carried out in order to remove the tonsils from adult. The tonsils are two masses of tissues that are oval in shaped. These tissues are seen at the back of the throat with each of them being on either sides of the throat. Tonsils are the body’s immune system first line of defense against bacteria, this means they first fight against micro organisms that enter the mouth.
Because of this function, they are always vulnerable to be attacked by viruses, bacteria and other inflammation. After puberty, the function of the tonsils as immune system starts to decline and this can cause tonsillitis especially in adults.
Tonsillitis can become frequent if they occur at least seven times in a preceding year or even five times in the past two years. To treat this condition, antibiotic treatment is usually given. In cases of pus accumulating behind the tonsils, medicines are given so that the pus is drained out. If these methods of treatments do not provide relief for the patient, tonsillectomy is carried out. Tonsillectomy is common in children but it can be recommended to adults who have the need for their tonsils to be removed. There is no age limit for the surgical procedure.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF TONSILLECTOMY?
Tonsillectomy in adults is performed to treat;
- Enlarged tonsils that can lead to difficulty in breathing or even difficulty in breathing while sleeping.
- Bleeding of the tonsils or of the blood vessels that are near the surface of the tonsils
- Chronic and severe tonsillitis which cannot be treated with antibiotics treatment
- Cancerous tissues that are found in any of the tonsils
- Bad breath caused by debris found in the cervices of the tonsils.
- Throat infections that causes the tonsils to swell.
TONSILLECTOMY IN ADULTS: WHAT TO EXPECT
Tonsillectomy in adults does not take long for it to be done. In fact, you can go home after the procedure unless there are other complications, you may be asked to stay back for further observations or treatment. Before the surgery is started, you may be asked not to eat anything midnight before the day of the surgery and you may be asked to change doses of drugs or to stop taking them entirely. You will also be given general anesthesia so as not to feel any pain. There are ways your surgeon may choose to carry out the surgery.
MEDICAL PROCEDURE FOR TONSILLECTOMY
The common ways of performing a tonsillectomy in adults are:
1. Harmonic Scalpel
For this method, ultrasonic will be used to cut out the tonsils. One good thing about this is that as the vibrations are cutting the tonsils, the bleeding is also being stopped at the same time. This method is less painful when compared to others.
Electrocautery makes use of heat from an electric current to cut off the tonsils, it can also control bleeding that will occur during or after the procedure. Electrocautery may cause mild discomfort or pain.
3. Cold Knife (Steel) Dissection
This is the most common method that is used by most doctors or surgeons. A scalpel is used to remove the tonsils, after the removal, sutures or extreme heat (electrocautery) will be used to stop the bleeding.
Microdebrider has a small, rapidly rotating blade that is used in cutting off tissues as well as simultaneous suction of the tissues that have been cut away from the field. The microdebrider can precisely remove about 97 percent of the tonsil, a thin layer of the connective tissue is left to protect the throat muscles.
5. Radiofrequency Ablation
This technique is minimally invasive because it only uses heat to shrink or destroy tissues and any other growth. You may feel some pain or burning sensation at the site of the procedure.
6. Carbon-dioxide Laser
Carbon dioxide laser uses an invisible infrared beam to remove thin layers of skin without damaging the surrounding tissues. If there are damage, it is always minimal.
These methods or techniques usually take between 20 to 30 minutes. After the procedure, there are common issues or effects you will get, some of them are:
- A feeling as if something is stuck in your throat
- Vomiting or Feeling nauseous
- Bad breath that can last up to two weeks
- Pain in the neck or jaw
- Little or moderate pain in the throat which can last up to a week or two weeks.
- The tongue or throat may swell up
- Discoloration on the area where the tonsils were removed.
- Mild fever for few days.
RECOVERY TIPS AFTER TONSILLECTOMY IN ADULTS
In order to manage the pain and get through your recovery process very fast, your doctor may give you instructions or steps like:
Rest is very important after the surgery, your doctor will likely ask you to get bed rest for the remaining part of the day. You may also be asked to get bed rest for few days before going back to your normal activities. During this period of resting, you should stay away from strenuous activities that can disrupt your healing process. If possible, get enough sleep during the night and rest as much as you can during the day.
It is not out of place to feel pain, remember parts of your body were removed. You will be given pain relief medicines by your doctor that will help ease the pain you feel. Make sure you stick to the correct dosage to avoid complications.
Keeping your body hydrated is one way to help facilitate your recovery process. Take lots of water or any fluid that will help your body be hydrated.
FOOD TO EAT AFTER TONSILLECTOMY IN ADULTS
The food you eat during your recovery process of the tonsillectomy in adults will help a lot. A week after the surgery, you should eat some certain foods so as not to irritate your throat. It is advised that you only eat soft and cold foods, but you have to avoid foods that are hot and spicy.
Some of the foods you can eat are:
- Scrambled eggs
- Lots of water or any other liquid
- Ice cream
- Bone broth
- Blended soups
- Mash potatoes
- Instant oatmeal
INFECTION AFTER TONSILLECTOMY IN ADULTS
Infection rarely occurs after tonsillectomy in adults. Infections may occur due to the tonsils growing back.
There are symptoms that may suggest infection:
- Increased pain
You may also feel fever that is higher than 101⁰F and does not get better even when you take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Taking antibiotics can help with the infection. You should finish your medication even after you feel better.
COUGHING AFTER TONSILLECTOMY IN ADULTS
It is normal to get cough after getting tonsillectomy in adults, this may be because of the anesthetic effects and also the increase in the production of secretion. You can also cough as heavy mucus can cause congestion. Diary products can also cause thick mucus.
The cough can go away on its own, it can go away as you recover. Hydrating your body will be best for you, do not spit the phlegm out to avoid dehydration. The cough can go away after some time but if it persists after three weeks, you can see the doctor.
WEIGHT LOSS AFTER TONSILLECTOMY IN ADULTS
Weight loss is common to people after tonsillectomy in adults. This is because eating normal food is not possible to avoid irritating the surgery site and causing pain. Less amounts of calories will be taken into the body till after you are fully healed. Also, mostly liquid and light foods are eaten, this can lead to reduction in weight.
A study published by the National Library of Medicine in 2015 analyzed the weight of adults after having tonsillectomy, 138 adults (age 18-40 years) were used for the study and an average weight loss of 4.77 pounds was recorded. They also found that older patients in the study typically suffered greater weight loss after surgery. For 40+ years, 5.72 pounds was lost; 31-40 year-olds lost 4.95 pounds while 5.44 pounds was lost in 20-30 year-olds.
RISKS OF TONSILLECTOMY IN ADULTS
There may be complications or risks during the procedure, some of the risks are:
1. Swelling: Tongue and soft roof of the mouth (soft palate) can swell up and this can cause breathing problems. This occurs few hours after the surgery and can cause problems.
2. Anesthetic Reactions: Most people react negatively to anesthesia and this can cause vomiting, headache, soreness of the muscles and sometimes death.
3. Bleeding: Light bleeding can occur during the procedure but if it continues even after, you should see a doctor.
Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure that requires removal of tonsils. Although the tonsils are important to the body, when they become infected or have issues, they may be removed. Aftercare instructions will be given and you are to abstain from eating some foods till you are properly healed. Your doctor will be in the best position to choose the right technique to be adopted.