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What is a tonsillectomy?

A tonsillectomy is surgery to remove the tonsils. You have two tonsils, located at the top of your throat, one on the left side and one on the right side. Your tonsils are pieces of lymph gland tissue that work as part of your immune system to fight infection. However, the tonsils themselves are prone to infection, a condition called tonsillitis. Tonsillectomy is often recommended for people who develop tonsillitis multiple times a year, or have fever, extreme discomfort or cardiopulmonary problems due to tonsil enlargement.

Another reason to have a tonsillectomy is to do a biopsy on a tonsil that becomes enlarged or has an abscess. In people who snore and/or have trouble breathing during sleep, tonsils are often determined to be blocking the airway and tonsillectomy is recommended.

Tonsillectomies on children are performed with patients under general anesthesia, although adults often only have local anesthesia. Throat pain and soreness for a week or so after the surgery are common. Once fully recovered, people who have tonsillectomies often experience fewer sore throats and infections.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.