Almost everyone is familiar with tonsillectomies, thanks to TV sitcoms. From Beaver on Leave it to Beaver in the 1960s to Jennifer on Family Ties in the 1980s to countless other sitcom kids, this common childhood surgery often makes for an easy plot, and of course always ends with the kid getting ice cream.
Tonsils and Tonsillitis
It is easy to explain where your tonsils are, because you can see them with the naked eye. Open your mouth wide, and your tonsils are the two masses of tissue you see at the back of your throat. But sometimes doing the job also causes tonsils to get swollen, inflamed, or even infected. This is called tonsillitis, which can be caused by strep bacteria or cold and flu viruses.
Tonsillitis can be painful, with soreness and tenderness in the throat, blisters and redness or a white coating on the tonsils, fever, chills, and difficulty swallowing or breathing. When these symptoms occur, you should make an appointment to visit your family doctor. Treatment will vary according to the cause of the tonsillitis, with viruses calling for rest and fluids, while antibiotics could be prescribed for a bacterial infection.
The Down and Dirty on Tonsillectomies
Part of the reason tonsillectomies showed up so much on TV sitcoms in the 60s, 70s, and 80s was because it was so common. In 1959, 1.4 million children in America had their tonsils
removed. But that number has decreased. Part of the reason for the decline is a change in the guidelines for what warrants surgery. Today, doctors usually recommend tonsillectomies for one of two reasons:
– Frequent or persistent tonsillitis
– Obstruction of the airway or difficulty eating, including obstructive sleep apnea
Thirty years ago, 90 percent of tonsillectomies were performed due to infections. Today, that number has decreased to 20 percent. Even with the decline in numbers and changing ratio of obstruction to infection, it is still a common surgery. And luckily most people see positive results from the surgery.
If your child is preparing to go through a tonsillectomy procedure, here are a few things you can expect:
– The surgery itself will last around 30-45 minutes.
– After surgery, the child will be in recovery for a few hours for observation.
– Once released to recover at home, expect recovery time to be one week to 10 days.
– During the days after surgery the child will experience mild to severe throat pain and may have a low-grade fever.
During recovery, it is important to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Also, even though they won’t want to eat anything because of discomfort, it is good to try to start eating as soon as they feel up to it. The sooner you can start eating, the sooner the body can fully recover.
Questions? Contact us, or call (336) 768-3361 today to schedule your appointment.