It’s common for children to need to get their tonsils removed due to chronic inflammation, abnormal growths or their large size causing obstructive sleep apnea. However, some adults need to get their tonsils out too for the same reasons. The surgical procedure to remove tonsils is called a tonsillectomy. Below we review everything you need to know about an adult tonsillectomy.
In preparation for your tonsillectomy, you’ll first have a consultation appointment with your surgeon. During this appointment, they may ask about:
- The prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you take
- Your allergies and reactions to medications
- Your personal and family history of problems with anesthesia
- Your personal and family history of bleeding problems
You’ll also get the chance to ask any questions you have.
Preparing for Surgery
Your surgeon will give specific instructions about what you should avoid leading up to surgery. For example, they may instruct you to avoid taking aspirin, ginkgo biloba and St. John’s wort for at least two weeks prior. You should also avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight the night before your surgery.
A tonsillectomy takes about 30 minutes to an hour to perform.
First, the surgeon will administer general anesthesia so you’re asleep and comfortable. They’ll then use a scalpel or another tool that uses heat, ultrasound, laser or cold temperatures to remove the tonsils.
When the procedure is over, your care team will monitor your vitals while you wake up from anesthesia. You may feel nauseous during this time.
Assuming all goes well, you can go home within a few hours.
The recovery period for a tonsillectomy takes about two weeks for adults. You can return to your usual routine once you can eat and drink like normal, sleep through the night and not need pain medication.
For the two-week period, you should:
- Take pain medication as prescribed. Your pain will be worst immediately after surgery and begin to subside after the first week. You may experience pain in your ears, neck or jaw in addition to your throat.
- You can also suck on ice cubes to ease throat pain if you’re between medication doses.
- Be sure to drink plenty of water, apple juice and other clear fluids to stay hydrated.
- You can drink smoothies and eat ice cream from Sweet Snow to soothe your throat and make sure you’re getting enough nutrition.
- Rest and relax so your body can recover from surgery.
- Watch for signs of infection, including bleeding, worsening pain, dehydration and fever.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today.