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What do you know about tonsilectomy?


Ginevra
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DD21 moved in to college campus yesterday to begin classes today, but said she was ill and thought she might have strep throat and/or ear infection. Well, she missed her first classes today and instead went to UC because she was feeling so poorly. (There is a campus clinic but they are not set up yet, she said, and they rec’d going to Urgent Care instead. A friend was able to drive her, which I’m glad for.) she tested negative for strep and negative for mono. They prescribed antibiotics as well. 

The bad part is that this is not rare. She has had I think three infections this year. She has taken probiotics to build back up all the good bacteria she keeps decimating. Her diet and habits are not bad; they are not pristine, but I think much better than many others her age. Her biggest health negative is sometimes she works through the night and so she has poorly patterned sleep periodically. 

The UC doctor advised she might consider talking with PCP about having her tonsils removed. I personally am very reluctant to do this. Also, one thing I hate to say is this dd is a bit of a hypochondriac. Not that she doesn’t legitimately get ill - she does, but I’m not a very sympathetic mom with this sort of thing. I’m more of a “roll with it” person where illness is concerned. People get colds and infections; big deal. Kind of like that. She is more like, “OMG! I’m sick and it feels bad so this has to be fixed right this minute!” 

It’s hard for me to see where it is useful to have a tonsilectomy. But I also believe that, now that the doctor put this idea in her head, she will keep thinking this has to be pursued. I’m honestly feeling annoyed that the doctor said something. I also have this memory of my SIL getting a tonsilectomy as an adult and she lost her mind over the pain of recovery. Like, she was suicidal and took way too many painkillers because she was crazed over it hurting so much. She ended up hospitalized. So there’s that.

But...what do I know? Maybe it is a good plan for someone who gets infections numerous times per year. Personally, I think it has something to do wih Lyme, which she had and was treated for when she was 11. She has had some health anomolies ever since and I am inclined to think this is related to that. (If you are wondering: other anomolies such as urticaria (hives) that sporadically arise for NAR. Permanently red feet. Pain in her jaw where she had swelling when the Lyme was dx’d - this just crops up sometimes.)

 

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I finally got mine out a couple of years ago. It's great to live without a permanent low grade infection, but it did change the sickness patterns in my body, and I had to relearn how they worked. The surgeon refused to take my wisdom teeth out at the same time, because recovery is so horrific. It was so horrific anyway, I think I might as well have risked it. My wisdom teeth did not like being interrupted like that. 

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2 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

I finally got mine out a couple of years ago. It's great to live without a permanent low grade infection, but it did change the sickness patterns in my body, and I had to relearn how they worked. The surgeon refused to take my wisdom teeth out at the same time, because recovery is so horrific. It was so horrific anyway, I think I might as well have risked it. My wisdom teeth did not like being interrupted like that. 

How so? 

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I had my tonsils out at 22. Prior to having my tonsils out, every time I came down with an illness, it would involve my throat. Frequently, my tonsils would be so big, they'd almost touch. I had multiple yeast infections in my throat - super fun going to the pharmacy for that. The prescription would be about a triple dose of normal yeast infection medicine and the pharmacists would practically hand me the medicine with a stick not knowing it was for my throat. ?

Recovery was tough for a few days, but it wasn't too bad. Now when I get sick, my throat doesn't get infected like it used to. I still have sore throats on occasion, but nothing like before I had the tonsillectomy.

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I got sick with a pretty bad sore throat during the fall of my freshman year of college. The doctor insisted that I needed a tonsillectomy, my tonsils looked horrible, etc., etc. I thought it was ridiculous because I had never had an abnormal number of sore throats (1-2/year) and would much rather deal with being sick now and then than go through the surgery. Plus, who doesn't get sick living in the germy dorm/cafeteria environment? My mom was all gung-ho on board with the doctor and even scheduled the surgery against my wishes, but I refused to go through with it. In the thirty years since then, I have only gotten sore throats maybe two or three times - so for me, it was the right decision to ignore the doctor's advice.?

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Tonsillectomy recovery for an adult versus a child is a totally different ballgame.  This is something that really needs to be discussed with an ENT, not a PCP before a determination could be made.  Generally, it is considered for recurrent throat infections over a few years, not just one year.  Recurrent strep in someone with a heart issue would also be a good reason, along with things such as OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), etc.  

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I had my tonsils out at age 20 after spending a year with recurring tonsillitis.  Like every 20-30 days, I was back to the college clinic and on antibiotics again.  It was bad but not horrible.  Just like with wisdom teeth, some people have a horrible time and others seem to breeze through it.  My advice would be to stay on top of the pain meds - don’t skip doses.  I would also recommend seeing the ENT, not s primary care doc.

DD17 had adenoidal surgery last spring.  It made a huge different in her sleep quality and cut down on the number of sinus infections she was having.  Again, staying on top of the pain meds made a huge difference.

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Dd19 just had tonsils out this summer. For the last couple of years, every time she had even a cold, her tonsils would pretty much close up. She would literally gag on water. Also she had some breathing issues if she ever slept on her back, she always had to sleep on her side. 

Recovery was ugly! But even right away she felt like could breathe better. She's also hoping not to end up at the dr for steroid shots every time she has a cold.

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Dh had them out when he was 30. He was having several infections that required antibiotics every year until finally his doctor told him he needed to get the tonsillectomy. His recovery took a couple of days of misery and about a week of feeling less than 100%. They gave him good painkillers and he ate lots of ice cream. He hasn't needed antibiotics for a throat based infection since the surgery. It was effective.

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One thing I don't understand is if she tested negative for both strep and mono, why did they put her on antibiotics?  Did they find an infection somewhere else?

If she has had three mild-ish infections so far this year (meaning it didn't keep her down for too long and she didn't get too sick), I wouldn't hurry into a tonsillectomy.  Now, if she had three really awful infections where she had severe swollen and infected tonsils and was really sick and not able to keep up, then I'd maybe consider it.

My dd had both her tonsils and her adenoids removed at age 7 I think.  She had been sick off and on all her life, and each time it seemed like it hit her throat more and more. Her tonsils would become huge and white and very infected, and then she couldn't eat or swallow well.  She had already been struggling to keep on weight, and this made it even worse.  She also snored and just had so many health problems.  

Removing her tonsils and adenoids really, really helped.  She still seemed to get colds easily, but they didn't escalate like they did before.  She slept better, and stopped snoring.  Over the years, she put on much needed weight...  I don't know if that part was related, but maybe.  

The recovery was brutal, but just for 24 hours.  After 24 hours it was much more tolerable.  

One thing though, and I don't mean to scare you with this.  But, they told me that her voice could slightly change after a tonsillectomy, and I do believe it did.  Probably no one else noticed it, but I did.  I think it sounded more muffled or nasal sounding after that.  (But, she also has always had a hearing loss so it could be related to that too.)  Still, I'm so glad she had the operation.  It was worth it in her case.  ?

 

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7 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

I finally got mine out a couple of years ago. It's great to live without a permanent low grade infection, but it did change the sickness patterns in my body, and I had to relearn how they worked. The surgeon refused to take my wisdom teeth out at the same time, because recovery is so horrific. It was so horrific anyway, I think I might as well have risked it. My wisdom teeth did not like being interrupted like that. 

 

This. I had mine out younger than college age but did not regret for a single minute. Gone were the constant sore throats. It's a quick in-and-out procedure...and I think they still recommend ice cream afterwards. :)

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Mine had hers out after freshman year of college, I believe, so that would make her 19.  She had tonsil stones, got lots and lots of infections for a number of years, and also had issues with her tonsils when she was having anaphylaxis reactions.  Recovery wasn't bad for her.  She took the painkillers but mainly for the first few days.  Oh, and when the doctor examined the tonsils, he was amazed at how many tonsil stones she had---the tonsils were totally filled with them.

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My ds 16 had his tonsils removed, and ds 14 will have his removed in a couple months. Their tonsils are the largest on the ENT's size chart, and are causing sleep apnea, snoring and feel like they block the throat constantly. These were good enough reasons for the ENT to do surgery. The recovery from this surgery isn't fun at all. It was 10 - 14 days of constant pain. But it was worth it for ds 16. He feels so much better.

In your dd's situation I would have her see an ENT specialist to see if tonsil removal will help her out.

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I had mine out as an adult.  I think I was 33.  The worst part of the recovery was day 4 or 5, and then it started to get better.   Unfortunately, I developed an allergy to amox. during that recovery and have never been able to take it since. 

The one mistake I made was going back to work too soon.   I just didn't understand how tired surgery makes you and for how long.

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16 hours ago, Quill said:

 

It’s hard for me to see where it is useful to have a tonsilectomy.

Although she's 21, it sounds as though you are still very involved in her day to day activities. Because you see illness differently than her and think she needs to have this addressed or she won't move on, you should turn to a professional, specifically an ENT, and let them decide whether she needs surgery or not. Then, you'll both know the right thing to do. If it turns out the tonsils do need to come out, you'll have the reasons why and if not, she will know why and how to deal with infections when and if she gets them. Win, win. 

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2 hours ago, debinindy said:

Question for those whose teens got their tonsils removed:

Did you use a pediatric ENT or an adult ENT?

Any suggestions either way?

 

DD's ENT handled both adults and children.  I asked around for recommendations and this doctor kept coming up.  He was very experienced.  

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Just FYI, she will need full-time care after surgery for several days.  I don't think we left DD alone for at least a week, although that may be excessive. I would plan on a minimum of 3-5 days full time.   Even with anti-nausea meds the painkillers made her vomit, so that didn't work the first few days.  Eventually when she was able to eat a bit she could take the painkiller at night right after eating and then go directly to bed after.  When they say 14 days, it can really mean 14 days.  She was in a lot of pain that whole time, and it was 3 weeks before she finally felt somewhat normal.  Obviously experiences may vary!

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15 hours ago, J-rap said:

One thing I don't understand is if she tested negative for both strep and mono, why did they put her on antibiotics?  Did they find an infection somewhere else?

If she has had three mild-ish infections so far this year (meaning it didn't keep her down for too long and she didn't get too sick), I wouldn't hurry into a tonsillectomy.  Now, if she had three really awful infections where she had severe swollen and infected tonsils and was really sick and not able to keep up, then I'd maybe consider it.

My dd had both her tonsils and her adenoids removed at age 7 I think.  She had been sick off and on all her life, and each time it seemed like it hit her throat more and more. Her tonsils would become huge and white and very infected, and then she couldn't eat or swallow well.  She had already been struggling to keep on weight, and this made it even worse.  She also snored and just had so many health problems.  

Removing her tonsils and adenoids really, really helped.  She still seemed to get colds easily, but they didn't escalate like they did before.  She slept better, and stopped snoring.  Over the years, she put on much needed weight...  I don't know if that part was related, but maybe.  

The recovery was brutal, but just for 24 hours.  After 24 hours it was much more tolerable.  

One thing though, and I don't mean to scare you with this.  But, they told me that her voice could slightly change after a tonsillectomy, and I do believe it did.  Probably no one else noticed it, but I did.  I think it sounded more muffled or nasal sounding after that.  (But, she also has always had a hearing loss so it could be related to that too.)  Still, I'm so glad she had the operation.  It was worth it in her case.  ?

 

I think they put her on abx because it was urgent care, she was complaining, and they wanted to do something. As I said, she is IMO a bit of an ass-pain when she is feeling badly and they probably figured hedge bets, give her a script and hope for the best. She does feel better today, FWIW.

This particular one was not so bad; she clearly didn’t feel so great, but she still ate and drank and moved stuff into he apartment, so clearly not too bad. The illness she had early this spring when she was out of the country was wretched. The other one was also not too mild and she had clearly ulcerated tonsils. 

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I had mine out when I was in first grade (I'm 55 now).  I have bad allergies (grasses, trees, pets, etc.) so I have had plenty of sore throats, strep, sinus infections, ear infections and even ended up having to have sinus surgery a few years ago and then had surgery to repair a hole in my eardrum earlier this year from a bad cold I had last summer.  I'm can't know if it made a difference for me or not but I still get sick, even without them.

My sister (who is an RN) was here for a visit recently and was reading a page out of one of my husband's medical journals (he is a doctor).  It was an article about tonsillectomies and how studies are now showing that people who had them often end up having other complications....I'm sorry I can't remember the details and I don't know where the article is.  I'm just throwing this in the mix and agreeing with others that she should see an ENT before making the decision and ask about both pros and cons, in case they are learning more info about it these days.

I was a skinny little kid and my mom said they worried about me after the surgery because I would only eat gravy for quite a while...and I didn't want ice cream because it hurt too badly.

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