Removal of the tonsils is a surgery that's associated with kids, but adults need this surgery sometimes too. For instance, a tonsillectomy is a common treatment for sleep apnea in children, but not a common choice for treating sleep apnea in adults. Adults are often prescribed a CPAP machine instead. However, if you can't tolerate CPAP or if your ENT doctor examines you and finds you have enlarged tonsils that contribute to your apnea, a tonsillectomy might be recommended. Here's what to expect.
You'll Probably Go Home The Day Of Surgery
A tonsillectomy is often done as an outpatient surgery. You'll receive general anesthesia, so you won't have pain or discomfort. Instead, you'll sleep through the procedure and be groggy once you wake up. For this reason, even though you can go home after the surgery, you still need supervision and need to have someone stay with you the first night.
Your Tonsils Are Removed To Enlarge Your Airway
One reason a tonsillectomy is more common in kids is that their tonsils are larger and cause more problems. As an adult, your tonsils don't take up as much room, but when they're enlarged, the tonsils can block your airway when you fall asleep. When this happens, the ENT surgeon removes your tonsils to make more room in your airway. Your tonsils are removed through your throat, so no incision is needed. You might have stitches afterward that fall out on their own, so you probably won't need a second procedure to remove them.
You Can Expect To Have A Sore Throat Afterward
It's common to have a sore throat after a tonsillectomy. You might also have earaches or pain in your jaw. Your doctor will probably prescribe pain medication, and if so, you should have it filled before the day of surgery so you can manage pain immediately after the procedure. The pain may go away in a few days and then come back later as the scabs form and fall off. It could take a few weeks to heal from your surgery, and during that time, you need to guard against causing bleeding and dehydration.
You may not feel like eating or drinking when you have a sore throat, but it's important to drink water or suck on ice pops to stay hydrated. You may be instructed to keep your head elevated and avoid spicy or scratchy foods for a few days. Your activities will also be limited until your surgery has healed and the risk of bleeding has passed. Once you've healed from your tonsillectomy, you might undergo a sleep test to measure how the surgery improved your sleep apnea. Talk to your ENT surgeon to learn more today.