Adults Can Have Tonsil Troubles Too
Tonsil removal is often a rite of passage for kids. Today, many adults can remember the pain and swelling, the surgery, and eating lots of ice cream afterward. But tonsil problems aren’t just a problem for kids. Some adults have the same problems. If tonsils are causing more harm than good, then a tonsillectomy may be the next best step.
What are your tonsils?
Tonsils are a small pair of glands located at the back of the throat. These are actually the palatine tonsils, 1 of 3 sets in the mouth and throat. Tonsils are an essential part of the immune system, preventing germs from entering the mouth or nose. The tonsils typically shrink with age; but for some people, this does not happen. As a result, the tonsils can become overwhelmed and infected. While tonsil infections are generally harmless, there are 3 unmistakable signs that a person needs a tonsillectomy.
1. Look for constant throat infections.
Tonsils become infected from exposure to excess bacteria or viruses, commonly called tonsilitis. The result is swelling, inflammation, soreness, and pain. Most infections go away with antibiotics and similar medications. For some adults, tonsilitis can become chronic. If the infection happens 5 or more times a year, the doctor will propose removing the tonsils.
2. Do you have trouble sleeping?
The swollen tonsils can cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can happen if something blocks the upper airway during sleep. As a result, some people stop breathing, start snoring or wake up gasping for breath. Long-term sleep apnea could lead to fatigue, restlessness, and even high blood pressure. If a doctor suspects the swollen tonsils can affect sleep and overall health, a tonsillectomy may help.
3. A strange growth on your tonsils
The tonsils can become swollen due to viruses and bacteria, but sometimes, there’s something else at play. Certain viruses, like human papillomavirus (HPV), can leave masses on the tonsils that may be cancerous. These masses can lead to similar symptoms related to tonsil infections. A biopsy helps to rule out the possibility of the throat or other cancers. For a doctor to complete the biopsy, a tonsillectomy happens first.
Time for a tonsillectomy
Adult tonsillectomies are similar to the procedure thousands of children have every year. The surgeon will perform the procedure under general anesthesia. While the patient is asleep, the surgeon uses a small scalpel to remove the tonsils and sometimes the adenoids. The doctor will then monitor the patient for any complications. A tonsillectomy can take about 2 weeks to heal. Speak with the doctor about any strange symptoms, as some risks come with surgery. Overall, surgery can stop the pain and discomfort that can come with constantly swollen, infected tonsils.
Follow the signs to your doctor
Tonsil infections can be mistaken for sore throats or colds. However, these swollen pieces of tissue can cause some long-term discomfort if ignored. Look for the signs that are common with infection and see a doctor right away. The doctor may try some non-surgical treatment first, but a tonsillectomy may be the best course of action.