Tonsils and Tonsillectomies
At the end of every spring time, as school ends and the prospect of summer starts appealing to youngsters, families begin to make plans for going to camp, having fun at the local beach, and possibly even planning a nice family vacation. However, for children who have to deal with tonsils that have become enlarged, or persistent bouts of tonsillitis, those pleasant thoughts may be far removed from their thinking.
Instead, youngsters bothered by tonsil problems may have to face the prospect of having a tonsillectomy performed, given the fact that recovery from the procedure takes between 10 and 14 days, and that it calls for specific planning.
What are your tonsils?
Tonsils are those twin masses of tissue which are situated at the back of the throat, and which are part of the lymphatic system. As such, the tonsils produce white blood cells which are involved in the fighting of diseases and other undesirable intrusions of the body. They could be called upon to fight infections, or to defend against viruses and bacteria which gain entrance to the body via the mouth.
The time of life when tonsils are most actively involved as components of the immune system, is just prior to puberty, which means they are more vulnerable to infection at that time. For that reason, tonsillectomies are far more commonly performed on younger children than on teens or young adults.
What causes enlarged tonsils?
In some cases, young children develop large tonsils and adenoids without having any specific cause, and which are not associated with any other kind of problem. In cases like these, tonsils don’t usually become enlarged to the point where they cause uncomfortable symptoms for the child.
However, in situations where the enlarged tonsils are due to an infection, a virus, or seasonal allergies, it is more likely that tonsils will become enlarged and cause problems for the child. It’s very possible for youngsters to be exposed to bacterial or viral infections at daycare centers, at pre-school gatherings, or in the early grades of elementary school.
In many cases, once the cause of the enlarged tonsils fades away, so does the swelling of the tonsils, and everything goes back to a relatively normal state. However, there are times when complications can result from enlarged tonsils, most notably imparting a very stuffy sounding quality to a child, much like having a cold or the flu.
This is often noticeable in children who are breathing through their mouths rather than through their noses as normal. In more severe cases, enlarged tonsils can lead to chronic ear infections, with the potential for some degree of hearing loss. It can also cause chronic sinusitis, which is a recurring version of sinus infections, as well as obstructive sleep apnea.
Finally, children bothered by enlarged tonsils and some of the other symptoms resulting from them, may experience either weight loss or inability to gain weight, because their eating habits have been impacted.
What is involved in a tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy is defined as the process of surgically removing tonsils, for whatever reason is deemed justifiable. One of the most common reasons for performing a tonsillectomy is that inflammation of the tonsils has been occurring on a persistent basis in an individual, quite often with those occurrences of tonsillitis coming closer and closer together.
It’s also possible that tonsillectomy is indicated for cases when it is known that the tonsils are bleeding, and this bleeding is difficult to stop. One last situation where tonsillectomy is the preferred option is when an infection occurs in the tonsils, and that infection does not respond appropriately to antibiotics.
When an infection cannot be brought under control using antibiotics, there are a few other alternatives which can be pursued, because the infected tonsils cannot be allowed to remain in place, where they can cause further damage in the body.
What are enlarged tonsils?
It’s very possible for tonsils to become enlarged when they frequently become infected. When that happens, there are generally symptoms which are present that cannot be left untreated. Younger children who are experiencing enlarged tonsils will often have difficulty breathing and swallowing, they may have unusual snoring during sleep, they may have to breathe through their mouths rather than through their noses, and there is very often a disruption to sleep patterns which can cause persistent fatigue and the child. When this kind of disrupted sleep persists, it can very often lead to crankiness, daytime sleepiness, and stretches of hyperactivity in the individual.
What kind of surgeries can be used on tonsils?
If an individual is experiencing extremely negative side effects from enlarged tonsils, or if recurring tonsillitis is bothering the individual, surgery may be the only practical alternative for restoring good health. In these situations, it will generally be necessary to completely remove the tonsils as well as the adenoids, in order to restore normalcy.
The surgery is not a difficult procedure, and it can be done on an outpatient basis right in your doctor’s office. There are seldom any complications associated with the procedure, and recovery time after surgery is generally only a matter of a few days.