When doctors discuss about tonsillectomy – the surgical removal of the tonsil, they often refer to the removal of the palatine tonsil, as there are other types of tonsils around the neck and throat. Tonsils are lymphoid tissues and they act as our immune system’s first line of defence against infection. You may have heard your peers or their children undergoing this surgery before but have you ever asked yourself, what are the situations that would require you to remove your tonsil?
There’s a few indications and situations where tonsillectomy is highly advised and that includes:
Chronic, severe or frequent tonsillitis – Four incidence of tonsillitis at any time in a year, is the indication used in many countries, for the removal of the tonsil in that individual. If someone has severe tonsillitis that caused them to develop complications from it, such as collection of pus around the tonsil and displacing the tonsil (Peritonsillar abscess), it is enough to warrant the removal of the tonsil.
Chronic or frequent middle ear infection (Otitis Media) – Although the tonsil removed here is the adenoid, it is still one of the tonsil in our body. The removal of adenoid tonsil in this case is highly advised because an enlarged tonsil will disturb the ventilation within the Eustachian tube, the structure that connects the middle ear and the pharynx (throat). Poor ventilation encourages bacterial infection in the middle ear as well as hinder the recovery process of Otitis Media.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) – This condition is a common sleep disorder caused by repetitive partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway and is characterised by episodes of alternating pauses in breathing during sleep which is then followed by the resumption of breathing. An enlarged tonsil will narrow the airway, causing airflow turbulence during inhalation which leads to symptoms such as snoring. This impeded airflow and oxygen delivery causes the brain to not receive optimal oxygen during sleep and as a result, the person will experience fatigue and headache the next morning. Upon waking up, they may also find their throat and mouth to be dry.
Tonsillectomy is not without its risk. If you have questions about the procedure, please consult your doctor.
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