Tonsils & Adenoids

Surgery of the Adenoids and/or Tonsils

Adenoids and tonsils are lymphatic tissue. Adenoids are at the back of the nose and tonsils are at the back of the mouth. They form part of the body’s immune system but there are other lymphatic tissue in the surrounding area as well as in other parts of the body.

Adenoids and tonsils may need to be removed if they contribute to illness. Common reasons include frequent recurrent tonsillitis, obstruction during sleep, nasal obstruction, and recurrent middle ear fluid or infections.

The surgery is usually performed through the mouth and takes about 45 minutes. After the surgery you would be admitted overnight. A parent is able to stay overnight with a young child. I will check on you the following morning before you go home. There are no restrictions on food and drink after the surgery and it is especially important to drink sufficiently to avoid dehydration. Please avoid heavy exercise for 1 week following the surgery.

There is usually pain following the surgery. The level of pain varies between different people. The pain from tonsil surgery usually gets worse for the first 3-4 days and gets better after the first week. Sometimes pain is felt in the ear as well. Most children take 1 week to recover while most adults take 2 weeks. I will send you home with medications for pain. Panadol, Panadeine and Painstop can be taken.

About one out of 20 patients who undergo tonsil surgery have bleeding problems. If you or any family members had previous bleeding problems or if you are on any blood thinning tablets it is very important you tell me before the surgery. Most bleeding happen about 7-10 days after the surgery. To reduce the likelihood of bleeding please do not take any aspirin or NSAIDs from 2 weeks before the surgery until 2 weeks after the surgery (4 weeks in total). NSAIDs are a class of medication which may be purchased from pharmacies and supermarkets and common brand names include Nurofen and Indocid. If you are not sure whether your medications include NSAIDs please check with your pharmacist.

Uncommon problems include chipped or dislodged teeth, small tears of the lips and in the mouth, temporary numbness of the tongue, change in taste or voice, and reactions to medications including the anaesthetics. Severe problems such as heavy bleeding, allergic reactions and even death are very rare but possible.

I will make arrangements to see you 3-4 weeks after the surgery. If you experience serious problems such as bleeding please go to your nearest hospital with an emergency department and have them contact me through my paging service on (03) 9387 1000. If you need non-urgent advice please ring the rooms on (03) 9417 1041.

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