Tonsillectomy Complications after Surgery

06 Jul, 2011

Tonsils and their Importance
Although not the most important or essential, tonsils act as one of the first defense mechanisms that stop most bacteria and viruses from entering the body via the mouth or the nose. The importance of this tissue usually comes forward in an irritating manner. Despite of it being a barrier to germs, it is one of the first parts to be susceptible to external attacks and may repeatedly swell up under infections. Infection causes the tonsils to swell or inflame. This can lead to difficulty in breathing, sleep apnea, tonsillar cellulitis or tonsillar abscess. In case of tonsil infections from streptococcus or its strain, the patient may suffer from severe complications like rheumatic fever or post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

Known as tonsillitis, tonsil inflammations can be very painful. It is extremely essential to diagnose the cause of tonsillitis to decide on the best treatment options. The common virus is one of the most regular causes of tonsil infections. Following are some of the main signs of tonsillitis:

  • tonsils-after-surgery

    Tonsils before & after surgery

    Foul breath coming from mouth

  • Reddening and swelling of tonsils
  • Increase in size of neck region glands, which are quite sensitive
  • Aching throat
  • Formation of white colored patches or coatings on tonsils
  • Unable to swallow easily
  • High temperature
  • Abdominal pain
  • Aching neck
  • Headache
  • Patient is unable to speak clearly

Young children or infants may become irritable, avoiding eating food and drooling, as they find it difficult to swallow. Due to their inability to explain their symptoms, parents or guardians should be on a look out for these signs and intimate them to their physicians.

Tonsillitis Cure – Tonsillectomy
In most cases, patients are advised certain home based activities that may provide sufficient relief for patients suffering from tonsillitis. Some of the activities include: taking sufficient rest, increasing water intake, drinking and eating warm foods, saltwater gargling, etc. Usually these activities control tonsillitis to a large extent. Sometimes, doctors may suggest antibiotic use to cure bacterial infections that cause tonsillitis. In some cases, if the frequency of tonsillitis is high, patients are advised a tonsillectomy – a surgery to remove the tonsils.
The frequency of tonsillitis, to make the person eligible for tonsillectomy, is dependant on the following three situations:

  1. If the patient has suffered six tonsillitis infections in a span of six years.
  2. If the patient has suffered four infections in two years; and
  3. If the patients has had three tonsillitis infections in three years.
  4. It is also carried out if the patient has severe problems like sleep apnea, abscesses that don’t cure or respiratory difficulties.

Post operation problems due to tonsillectomy
Although it is quite a normal operation, there are a number of post operation complications that surface after tonsillectomy. Following are some of the problems that are usually seen in the patient after the surgery:

  • Enlargement of the uvula, situated at the throat rear.
  • Blocked or partially blocked nose
  • Foul smell from mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Aching ear
  • Running nose which may occasionally contain blood
  • Slight temperature (fever) that may last for couple of days after the surgery.

A severe complication that may occur is bleeding that may occur from the patient’s oral or nasal openings. In such cases, patients or their caregivers should immediately call up their physician and seek advice. Patients are also advised to increase their fluid intake as they may end up being dehydrated.

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