What Is a Tonsillectomy?
Have you ever had
? That's when your tonsils, in the back of your throat, get
sore and infected. If tonsillitis happens to you a lot, the doctor
may suggest you have an operation to remove your tonsils. No
tonsils, no more tonsillitis. Or maybe you have really large
tonsils that make it hard for you to breathe at night. That's
another reason the doctor may say they should come out.
Your tonsils are two lumps of tissue that work as germ fighters
for your body. The trouble is that sometimes germs like to hang out
there, where they cause infections. In other words, your tonsils
start causing more problems than they solve.
The surgery to remove tonsils is called a
After this operation, kids usually don't have as many sore
throats. And, if they were having trouble breathing at night, that
problem goes away, too. Without tonsils, a kid won't look any
different and he or she won't have any scars that anyone can
see. You don't
your tonsils, so a kid's body keeps on working just fine even
after they've been removed.
But how do doctors get the tonsils out of your throat? Will it
hurt? And what exactly do tonsils do back there? Let's find
Before the Tonsillectomy
Before you go to the doctor, you may need a blood or urine (pee)
test. These tests might be done at your
, at a medical center or laboratory, or at the hospital a few days
before your operation.
The night before surgery, you won't be allowed to eat or
drink anything after dinner - not even water. That's because
your doctors don't want you to throw up during the operation.
That would be a mess. So if you don't eat or drink, there's
nothing in your stomach to throw up.
You'll also need to pack your suitcase and bring anything
you want to have with you. If you have a special stuffed animal or
blanket, go ahead and bring it. It's nice to have something
that reminds you of home when you're in the hospital.
You'll probably go to the hospital on the day of your
surgery. Your mom or dad will help you get admitted. It's kind
of like checking into a hotel. You let the hospital know you're
there and they give you your room assignment. You'll also get a
plastic bracelet that has your name on it. Once you're in your
room, you'll meet the nurses and other hospital staff who will
take care of you. Your mom and dad can stay with you.
Tonsils are removed in the
, so you'll have to take a ride on a gurney. A gurney is like a
bed on wheels. When it's time for your operation, you'll
get a medicine called
-zhuh). It will help you fall asleep and keep you from feeling any
pain during the operation.
During the surgery, which takes only about 20 minutes, doctors
will open your mouth and remove the tonsils. Hurray for anesthesia
because you won't feel anything during the operation. The
doctors will quickly take care of any bleeding, and before you know
it, you'll wake up in the recovery room.
You may feel sleepy and dizzy at first. But soon you will feel a
lot better and your mom or dad will come in to see you. You'll
probably have a sore throat and maybe a slight earache.
What Happens Afterward?
After your operation, it's important to drink fluids when
you wake up. You should try to drink, even if it hurts a bit at
first. This will help you feel better and get home faster.
Sometimes kids stay in the hospital overnight, but most go home the
same day as their operation.
The first 2 days at home should be spent in bed. Drink fluids
and eat soft foods. This will help keep your throat moist and your
body fueled. Have your mom or dad stock the refrigerator with soft
drinks, icepops, gelatin, ice cream, and pudding. Other good things
to eat are mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, pasta, and warm
While you're getting better, you'll take a pain
reliever, such as acetaminophen. You also may get
-tiks) to prevent infection. You may see little white patches in
the back of your throat. This is normal. After the first week, the
white patches will fall off. You doctor may also have you return to
his or her office for a checkup.
After a week or two, you should feel much better. You'll be
ready to go back to school and play with your friends again. You
can tell them all about your tonsillectomy!
Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: November 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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