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Every medical procedure has some effects and some side effects. It is very important to go into treatment knowing exactly what risks you are taking and if those risks are even worth it in the first place. Knowing the risks also helps you communicate your issues to your medical help better. It is important that you under that this information is not here to help you avoid your medical procedure. It is for your comfort so that you better understand what you are going through during a procedure. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of tonsillectomy. We will cover what a tonsillectomy is, under what circumstances are you required to go through this procedure, and how getting it can benefit or harm you.
What is tonsillectomy?
It is a surgical procedure performed to removed inflamed tonsils from your throat. It is one of the most common procedures performed in the world. Earlier it used to be the go-to procedure to treat the inflammation or infection of tonsils. Today it is only performed if the inflammation starts causing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes the body to stop breathing when a person is sleeping. It is also used to treat recurring or chronic tonsillitis, enlarged tonsils, bleeding of the tonsils and other rare tonsil diseases.
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What is sleep apnea?
This is a condition where a person suddenly stops breathing for a few minutes in their sleep due to enlarged tonsils. Sleep apnea has been shown to be connected to heart disease, depression, mood swings, aggression, daytime sleepiness, etc. Swollen tonsils directly block the entrance of the air into the lungs and cause sleep apnea. Tonsillectomy is suggested in this case if it is causing the major quality of life issues with a person. Sleep apnea can cause issues like reduced work performance in people.
What is tonsillitis?
Tonsils are the body’s first line of defense against bacteria entering our bodies through our mouth. They have white blood cells that help the body fight away bacteria. This, however, is, unfortunately, the very thing that makes the tonsils extremely vulnerable to infection. Infection may lead to the inflammation of tonsils.
This condition is more common in children because their bodies are less exposed to infections and are hence less immune to the problem. They develop infections more quickly than adults.
Tonsillectomies are suggested when the situation occurs frequently. Frequently here means at least once every two months.
They may also recommend this treatment if the bacteria causing tonsillitis have become resistant to the antibiotics.
Disadvantages of tonsillectomy
There are several side effects or disadvantages of tonsillectomy like-
- General anaesthesia used during surgery can have a plethora of side effects ranging from minor nausea and vomiting to major respiratory failure, malignant hyperthermia, and even death. If you have a history of family members dying in surgery due to anaesthesia you are at a higher risk for this. If you have had surgeries in the past, where general anaesthesia was used, successfully you are safe.
- Bleeding out during the surgery is extremely possible. The tonsils are very close to major blood vessels. Bleeding out after the surgery is however not very common despite being one of the biggest risks of the surgery. The bleeding can occur on two occasions once during the twenty-four hours mark from the surgery or after ten days (or whenever scabs come off). It is estimated that around twenty-two out of thousand people haemorrhage within the first twenty-four hours of the surgery and around one to thirty-seven out of thousand people haemorrhage when their scabs come off. If you are anaemic or have haemophilia your chances of bleeding out post surgery are high. The usage of certain medications like aspirin can also increase your chances of bleeding out.
- Infections are also a risk post a tonsillectomy. This too is rare but when it does occur it can be treated with antibiotics. If you notice an infection or its symptoms report to your doctor immediately. The symptoms can be ear pain, high fever, green mucus, coughing, and difficulty in breathing. Ear infections are also common after this surgery.
- There are other risks such as burns during the surgical cautery. You can also inhale stomach contents due to mistake. You can have an allergic reaction to the medication you receive during the surgery. Your upper airway could be obstructed due to scar tissue. You can have excessive scar tissue due to surgery. These complications are rare and can be resolved if need be. If you are scared about the complications contact your doctor or any other medical care provider and ask them about the steps you can take to resolve the situation. They are the best people to help you.
While it is important to know about your procedure it is very harmful to assume that what you know is the absolute and only truth. It is essential that you do the procedure with a doctor you trust and that you communicate with the said doctor. This will help them provide you with the best possible care. Tell them about the fears you have regarding the surgery and tell them about the issues you have with the current treatment process and more importantly listen to them when they explain something to you. Your doctor is your well-wisher and friend. They are there to help you get better and be healthy.
Also, remember that all of the complications we have discussed are rare. A good amount of tonsillectomies are conducted across the world every year and a majority of them are successful. They are performed by professionals who are highly experienced and trained in their fields and are capable of protecting you from the possible side effects.
If you are really scared of the procedure try talking to your doctor about alternative treatments. Please also feel free to seek out professional help to deal with your fears. That is completely normal and necessary.