What you should know
A tonsillectomy is surgery to remove your tonsils. Tonsils are 2 large lumps of tissue in the back of your throat. Adenoids are small lumps of tissue on the top of your throat. Tonsils and adenoids both fight infection. Sometimes only your tonsils are removed. Your adenoids may be taken out at the same time if they are large or infected.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
- You may bleed more than expected during or soon after surgery. Your risk of bleeding may increase if you smoke. You may get a fever or infection after surgery. You may have swelling in your mouth, throat, or lungs that makes it hard to breathe. You may have heavy bleeding after surgery or after you go home. Heavy bleeding may be life-threatening without prompt treatment.
- You may have an upset stomach or vomiting after surgery. You may also have pain in your throat, ears, or jaw that lasts up to 2 weeks. It may hurt to swallow. Your tonsils could grow back after surgery. Without surgery, your colds, infections, or sleeping trouble may get worse.
The week before surgery:
- Tell your caregiver if you know or think you might be pregnant.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Tell your caregiver if you have a history of heavy bleeding or a blood disorder. Also tell him if a family member has a blood disorder.
- You may need blood tests. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Tell your caregiver if you have breathing problems, snore, or have sleep apnea. You may need sleep tests before your surgery. You may need more care than usual after your surgery if you have sleep apnea.
- Tell your caregiver if you have acid reflux.
- Do not smoke or go to smoky areas before surgery.
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
The night before surgery:
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of surgery:
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
- Do not wear contact lenses the day of surgery. You may wear glasses.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
What will happen during surgery:
- You will have monitors attached to you to check your heart, breathing, and blood pressure during surgery. An IV placed in your vein will give you fluids and medicine called anesthesia to keep you asleep during surgery. After you are asleep, a caregiver will gently place a tube in your throat to help you breathe. You may be given medicine to help numb your throat and mouth. You may receive antibiotics to help prevent infection and fever. You may also receive steroid medicine to help reduce bleeding and swelling during surgery. This medicine may also help you recover faster.
- Your caregiver will use tools to keep your mouth open. These help your caregiver see your throat clearly. Then, he will remove your tonsils. He may only need to remove part of your tonsils. Your caregiver will also check your adenoids and may remove them if they are large or infected. Lastly, your caregiver will stop the bleeding in the areas where tissue was removed.
You will be taken to a recovery area where caregivers watch you until you are alert. You may then be taken to your room. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot be at your surgery on time.
- You have a fever.
- The reasons for your surgery get worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.