Tonsil removal, also called tonsillectomy, used to be a fairly common practice within the realm of pediatrics. With improvements in medication and the management of illness, tonsils are not removed quite as routinely, but there are certain situations in which a tonsillectomy is the best course of action for a young patient, and it's imperative that parents understand what goes into caring for their children after they are discharged from this procedure. Our doctors at Children's Ear, Nose and Throat Associates in Orlando, FL have provided parents with information about aftercare following a tonsillectomy.
Why are tonsils removed?
The tonsils, located in the back of the throat, are similar to lymph nodes - masses of cells that help regulate the immune system. When a person contracts strep throat, the tonsils are the "first responder" in dealing with the bacterial infection, and redness, inflammation and soreness are the result of this response. But recurrent episodes of strep throat can be difficult to treat, and may leave the tonsils at risk for abscesses. There is also the risk of sleep apnea - difficulty breathing during sleep - due to perpetual enlargement of the tonsils. For these reasons, your Orlando pediatric ENT may recommend a tonsillectomy for your child. This is generally an outpatient procedure that lasts less than an hour.
What aftercare is recommended for a tonsillectomy?
The goal of recovery after a tonsillectomy is to prevent infection and manage pain. The day of the procedure, your Orlando ENT typically discharges patients after a few hours of monitoring to ensure that the anesthesia has worn off and that there are no adverse reactions.
At home, rest is extremely important: patients should keep the head elevated with a few pillows. Activity and visitors should be kept to a minimum for at least the first day following a tonsillectomy. Meals should be limited to light, cool, soft foods - yogurt, gelatin, applesauce, milkshakes or broth that has been brought to room temperature. Nausea and vomiting often occur the day or so after any surgery, so it may take some time before your child has an appetite. Weight loss is very common during the days following a tonsillectomy; adequate fluid intake is the main concern during this time.
Your pediatric ENT typically prescribes a round of antibiotics after a tonsillectomy, as well as a narcotic or analgesic to manage the pain. Medication should be taken exactly as instructed and parents should watch for signs of allergic reaction: swelling, hives or difficulty breathing.
As always, the doctors at Children's Ear, Nose and Throat Associates in Orlando, FL, encourage parents to call with any questions or concerns they may have about their child's health. We look forward to helping you!