Posts tagged tonsillectomy
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.
There are many times when both children and adults will experience the condition commonly known as a sore throat, which is characterized by swallowing difficulties, and a painful sensation in the throat itself. This is often due to a cold or some other virus, but there’s also a possibility that you may be experiencing tonsillitis.
Tonsils can become infected by pre-existing viruses or bacteria, and when that happens, they generally become enlarged and cause you to feel a sore throat, possibly a fever, and most likely some difficulty with swallowing. When you have at least five episodes of tonsillitis annually, this is considered a chronic condition.
If tonsils become enlarged for any reason, they can block the airway whenever you’re reclining or trying to go to sleep. This can bring on the condition known as sleep apnea, which can be a dangerous thing all on its own – someone with sleep apnea may experience as many as 50 stoppages of breathing during the course of a night.
In some rare cases, it’s even possible for tonsils to become cancerous, and in that kind of situation, surgery is definitely indicated to remove the tonsils. However, there may be other times as well when removal of your tonsils can be a beneficial thing, as the discussion below will bear out.
When Tonsils Should be Removed
There are two primary reasons why you should consider a tonsillectomy. The first of these is that you have chronic sleep apnea which significantly disrupts your sleep. The other warning sign which may indicate a tonsillectomy is that you’re experiencing recurrent tonsillitis, triggered by strep throat for instance, or some other kind of infection.
There are less common triggers for removal of your tonsils as well, those being the presence of abscesses or tumors. Tonsillectomy is indicated far more often in youngsters than in adults, simply because children generally have less robust immune systems than adults, and they are less well-equipped to fight off viruses and infections.
Historically, removal of the tonsils has led to significantly reduced occurrences of infection for those people who have a chronic history of tonsillitis. Since tonsils don’t provide any really critical function to the body, there are no long-term ill effects which accrue to someone who has them removed, and the recovery time associated with having a tonsillectomy performed is relatively low.
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
As mentioned previously, the primary symptoms of tonsillitis include a painful sore throat, usually on one side or the other. Although this won’t be externally visible, the tonsils also appear to be inflamed and may secrete pus. Someone bothered by tonsillitis may also have difficulty with swallowing, bleeding spots on the tonsils, a runny nose or stuffy nose, a high fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
When tonsillitis becomes chronic, you may experience seven or more infections in the same year, or at least five infections per year in back-to-back years, or at least three infections annually for a period of three years. This is the medical definition of chronic infection for tonsillitis, but if it seems to you that you’re constantly dealing with the effects of inflamed tonsils, you won’t need to compare your condition to the detailed medical definition.
Both children and adults will experience the same indications for tonsillitis, but adults are far less prone to the condition because as people grow older, tonsils will generally shrink in size, and become much less susceptible to infection.
When Enlarged Tonsils Become Dangerous
One of the most common harmful effects of tonsillitis is that it can trigger sleep apnea, which in turn causes abnormal breathing during rest periods. Children are particularly affected by this, and when they are bothered by sleep apnea, it is generally be manifested as hyperactivity during the waking hours of the day.
Some symptoms which are not quite so apparent are when a strain on the heart or lungs develops. There can also be a hormonal disruption in children, which can promote obesity. While these conditions may be difficult to diagnose on their own, when tonsillitis is suspected and sleep apnea is involved, it’s much easier to associate any other symptoms with their true cause.
How Do Adults and Children Benefit from Tonsillectomy?
Children benefit more frequently from having their tonsils removed than do adults, primarily because children are afflicted more often than older people are by tonsillitis. That means there are more cases of sleep apnea and chronic tonsillitis in young people than there are in adults. Children can definitely benefit by having their tonsils removed when either chronic tonsillitis is involved, or when the condition has led to sleep apnea.
However, adults may also benefit from tonsillectomies under certain conditions. If an adult should be troubled by sleep apnea, or by the same chronic sore throats that a youngster might, there is a definite possibility that they would enjoy improved sleep and a better quality of life by having their tonsils removed.
Of course, it should be remembered that, as with any other kind of surgery, there are certain risks involved with having your tonsils removed. When surgery becomes a possibility, you should discuss the situation thoroughly with your family doctor, and then consider the risks versus the rewards to be obtained by tonsillectomy.
Acupuncture After Tonsillectomy: A Safe Alternative to Treat Pain in Children After Tonsillectomy
For thousands, having their tonsils removed is one event that can disrupt the pleasant carefree spirit of childhood, albeit temporarily. It is a very common procedure, though not one that is embraced by both parents and children alike as it can bring about great discomfort and pain. While it does bring relief in the long run, recovery time after surgery can be unpleasant. Prescribing codeine used to be the standard to combat pain and discomfort. As of early last year, the FDA banned codeine for this purpose. Other pain-relieving alternatives have to be sought, and acupuncture after tonsillectomy may be a viable option for children.
It was ascertained that codeine could cause severe complications when used for pain management after a tonsillectomy in children, and hence the FDA ban. Physicians have been trying to find an adequate replacement to ease postsurgical pain in children. One ENT specialist discovered that acupuncture is a safe, easy, and affordable solution. A trial including 31 children of varying ages found that acupuncture relieved symptoms almost immediately. Upon following up with parents, it was also noted that the treatment lasted more than two days. The use of an alternative drug-free therapy over a narcotic has its appeal, especially when it comes to younger children.
In the past, over-the-counter pain relieving medications, such as ibuprofen, have been used to ease post-surgery pain in children but with little success as they can cause severe complications in very young patients. Finding a safe alternative that is just as effective is something many in the ENT field are excited about. Similar studies are underway to help determine if acupuncture would have the same results in children undergoing other types of surgery as well. In the meantime, physicians will continue to take advantage of these findings and employ them when it comes to their smallest patients and mindfully recommend acupuncture after tonsillectomy to parents.
Not Just a Procedure for Children: The Benefits of Tonsillectomy in Adults
Some children are prone to sore throats, strep throat, and tonsillitis. At times, these types of conditions are frequent enough that they warrant a tonsillectomy. This can prove to be a blessing for children as it brings much wanted relief. What about adults? A percentage of the adult population complains of frequent and painful sore throat. Missing days from work and school accumulate, and overall quality of life can be hindered. Is tonsillectomy for adults a reasonable solution to the problems experienced? An independent study was done that may shed some light on the topic.
European researchers found a group of individuals willing to participate in the study. Eighty-six patients who complained of frequent sore throat were closely studied. Forty-six of these participants elected to have a tonsillectomy. The others were part of the control group. Follow-up after the procedure was done at five months. Seeing as the patients chose to undergo surgery, the results may reflect a bias. Nevertheless, researchers are certain there was an overall improvement in condition.
For those who had their tonsils removed, only one complaint of a sore throat was made. When compared to the control group, where 80 percent complained of a sore throat at some point within those five months, there is a marked difference. Those who opted to have the tonsillectomy also showed improved numbers when it came to the amount of days from work and school missed.
While a tonsillectomy may be mostly associated with juvenile-associated sore throat, there is a slight advantage to opting for the procedure later on in life. For those adults who suffer from chronic pharyngitis or sore throat, this may be the help they have been looking for. Being a unique study, researchers intend to look a bit further into tonsillectomy for adults later in life.