How will I know if I need a tonsillectomy?
Thank you for your question. Tonsils are two oval-shaped soft tissue sitting at the back of your throat (see picture below).
They are part of your immune system. Their role in your body's immunity against infection is negligible as other immune organs such as your lymphatic system, liver and spleen are the main players in your immune system.
I shall answer both your questions as follows:
a) How do I know if I need to remove my tonsils?
I often tell my patients that the tonsils are very much like the appendix. If they do not give you any problems, you leave them alone.
It doesn't mean that if your grandmother had her tonsils...
Tonsillectomy is probably the commonest surgery performed by the ENT Surgeon. There are various indications for tonsillectomy.
The commonest would be recurrent tonsillitis.
- Severe throat pain, with high fever
- Difficulty eating
This requires a course of antibiotics up to 2 weeks per episode.
Individuals with recurrent tonsillitis can have such infections as frequent as once per month. There are various recommendations on how frequent the infection should be before we recommend the surgery.
However, you can imagine that it really depends on the individual's lifestyle and work commitments.
Some guidelines recommend infections of more than 6 time a year before we consider surgery.
For some, having a 2 week disruption even 3 - 4 times a year is too disruptive to their work/ studies and they...
Tonsillectomy is indicated in several scenarios, including
1. Enlarged tonsils with obstructed airways
2. Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnoea deemed secondary to enlarged tonsils
3. One-sided tonsillar enlargement where there is a concern of cancer
4. Other less absolute indications, including recurrent tonsillitis (≥3 to 5 times a year) or resulting complications like peritonsillar abscesses
There is no real issue with removing them (ie you can live without them), but surgery entails some risks that will be explained to you by your surgeon if you are to undergo the procedure.
Hope this helps.