Should You Have Your Tonsils Removed As An Adult?

If you spent your college years pulling all-nighters and eating a less-than-balanced diet while rarely getting so much as a cold, you may be dismayed that you now seem to be susceptible to every sore throat and sinus infection that makes its way around your office -- despite taking better care of yourself now than you did in your early twenties. While this increased susceptibility to viruses can often simply be attributed to the aging process, in some cases, it may indicate a problem with your tonsils or adenoids that could require removal. Read on to learn more about some situations in which tonsil removal may be the best option, as well as what you can expect from this procedure. 

When may you need your tonsils removed as an adult?

In most cases, tonsil removal is performed on children or young teens who have had a history of recurring sore throats, sinus infections, or other ear, nose, and throat (ENT) issues caused by bacteria buildup in the tonsils and adenoids. Because tonsils, much like appendixes and pinky toes, no longer serve much of a biological purpose, their removal is a fairly routine process that poses few risks and can improve future health.

Tonsil removal as an adult is a bit more serious, and should therefore be performed only if your tonsils are affecting your quality of life. For some adults, tonsils can essentially double as bacteria sponges, harboring potentially harmful strep and staph bacteria that can inflame the tissues in your mouth and throat whenever your immune system is weakened by lack of sleep, poor diet, or stress. Treating this inflammation can require heavy-duty antibiotics, and often these medications simply cause the infection to retreat back to your tonsils instead of eradicating it completely. Because long-term antibiotic use carries a number of risks, from antibiotic-resistant infection to organ damage, having your tonsils removed may be the best option.

What surgical procedures can pose the least risk of complications? 

When having your tonsils removed, it's important for your surgery to be as non-invasive as possible. Because it's likely your tonsils are already contaminated with bacteria, making large incisions in your neck or jaw could increase the risk of post-surgical infection. One popular alternative to traditional tonsil surgery is laser removal, in which the tonsils are detached from the back of your throat with a high-powered laser beam that immediately cauterizes the incision, reducing bleeding and all but eliminating the odds of infection. Although your recovery may still be somewhat lengthier than it would have been if your tonsils were removed during childhood, having a laser tonsillectomy should allow you to quickly move on with a life free from chronic sore throats. Contact a business, such as Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head, for more information.