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How Do You Know Your Tonsils Need To Be Removed?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 23, 2023

How Do You Know Your Tonsils Need To Be Removed?

For a lot of people who have recurring tonsillitis, the question of “How do you know your tonsils need to be removed?” is a common one. But are tonsillectomies, or surgery to remove the tonsils, absolutely necessary? And are there any alternatives to removing the tonsils? Find out the answers to these questions, and more.

How Do You Know Your Tonsils Need to Be Removed?

Your tonsils are small organs that can be found at the back of your throat. Strictly speaking, they are a part of our immune system, though removing them doesn’t weaken our immunity whatsoever.

Being a part of the immune system also means that our tonsils are more vulnerable to infection. This is the reason why people get tonsillitis, or inflamed tonsils.

Having tonsillitis can be painful, as the swollen tonsils make it hard to swallow food and drink. Alongside this, people can also experience fever and fatigue. Thankfully, a lot of people only experience tonsillitis once or twice a year at most.

How do you know your tonsils need to be removed? For the most part, tonsillitis really isn’t a serious concern. It’s usually common in children, and once a person reaches adulthood, tonsillitis becomes exceedingly rare.

However, there are situations wherein a person might have recurring tonsillitis. This means that they experience tonsillitis 3 times or more each year. If a person has recurring tonsillitis, doctors might recommend that the tonsils be removed completely. This type of surgery is what we call tonsillectomy.

What Are Tonsillectomies For?

Tonsillectomies are usually done for cases of recurring tonsillitis. However, it can also be done in the following situations:

  • Having enlarged tonsils that cause sleep apnea
  • Swollen tonsils that make breathing or swallowing difficult
  • An infection of the tonsils that doesn’t get better with antibiotics

For children who have recurring tonsillitis, a tonsillectomy can have a lot of benefits. This is because children are more prone to having recurring tonsillitis, and having a doctor take them out prevents this from happening.

Children also recover more quickly, usually twice as short as the recovery time for adults.

What Is the Procedure Like?

The procedure itself might sound scary for some, mostly because of misinformation about how tonsillectomies are done.

Patients who undergo tonsillectomies do so while under general anesthesia. This also means that you will need to fast for at least 6 hours beforehand, or depending on your doctor’s recommendation.

Contrary to what some people might believe, tonsillectomies don’t involve any external cuts. Surgeons conduct the surgery through your mouth, so there’s nothing to worry about or be afraid of.

During the surgery, the surgeon uses a scalpel to remove the tonsils.

The entire surgery only takes about 30-40 minutes, and patients might stay for about 6 hours in the hospital for observation. But generally, tonsillectomies are outpatient surgeries, and patients usually go home the same day of their surgery.

After the surgery, patients are able to eat and drink, though there might experience some pain and a sore throat during recovery. The throat can also develop scabs, and turn white in color; this is nothing to worry about and is a normal part of the healing process.

Your doctor might also prescribe you some medication to help with the pain. Patients fully recover from a tonsillectomy in about 10-12 days. Afterward, there should be no problems, and patients can rest easy knowing that they won’t have recurring tonsillitis anymore.

how do you know your tonsils need to be removed

Are There Any Risks?

Tonsillectomies, while considered routine surgeries, can also present some risks such as the following:

  • Bleeding after the surgery
  • Teeth that were damaged during the surgery
  • Infection
  • Complications from anesthesia

However, compared to other types of surgery, the chances of any serious problems with tonsillectomies are very low. Regardless, it is important to be aware of what the possible risks are before you choose to go through with the surgery.

Are There Any Alternatives?

If undergoing tonsillectomy worries you, you can treat tonsillitis with pain medication, and antibiotics, if your doctor prescribes it.

It would also be a good idea to talk to your doctor about alternative forms of therapy. They might be able to give you recommendations on what you can do about your tonsillitis without removing it.

Learn more about Throat Conditions here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Feb 23, 2023

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