Tonsils are two small, almond-shaped masses of lymphoid tissue found in the back of the throat. They often become a source of infection, pain and inflammation. A physician may recommend removal if the tonsils cause numerous infections, sore throats or difficulty swallowing. The procedure to remove the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy. While the surgery has the risk of complications, there are several potential advantages to having the procedure.
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A tonsillectomy usually resolves the recurrent infections related to the tonsils. "Medical-Surgical Nursing" explains that Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus bacterial, Pneumococcus bacteria, and viruses can all infect the tonsils. Without resolution, the child or adult is often exposed to multiple courses of antibiotics, pain, fever, ear-related complications and lost productivity due to illness.
Another advantage to a tonsillectomy that many adults and some children experience is improved sleep. This occurs when the tonsils were either too large, chronically swollen from infection, or enlarged due to an unusual growth. Their removal often resolves obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition in which an individual quits breathing during sleep due to obstruction of the throat.
The Texas Pediatric Surgical Associates explains that tonsils can become the site of benign or cancerous tumors. Adults are susceptible to lymphoma and carcinoma of the tonsil, while children may develop lymphoma in a tonsil. Physicians often remove both tonsils when one tonsil shows an unusual growth or tumor.
One of the functions of tonsils is to trap bacteria and dead cells. This debris may remain in the pockets of the tonsils, creating an offensive smell. Taste can also become altered due to the chronic odor. While it is not usually a substantial reason for a tonsillectomy, improved breath is often a welcomed perk to having the procedure.
- "Medical-Surgical Nursing"; Donna Ignatavicius, M.S., R.N. and Linda Workman, Ph.D., R.N.; 2002
- MedlinePlus: Tonsillectomy
- Texas Pediatric Surgical Associates: Tonsils and Tonsillectomy
- Encylopedia of Surgery: Tonsillectomy