Tonsils and Tonsillectomy
What are tonsils?
are the two pink lumps of tissue found on each side of the back of your throat.
(Open your mouth wide and say ‘ahhhh’ in front of a mirror to see them.) Each
grape-size lump fights off the bad bacteria or germs living in your
What is tonsillitis?
Bacteria (bad germs)
are tiny living things that can cause sickness and infection. Too many bad germs
on your tonsils can make you sick. This is what your doctor calls tonsillitis
(ton-sil-lie-tis), or an infection in one or both of your tonsils.
you think you have tonsillitis? A symptom is a signal that something is wrong
with your body. Talk with Mom and Dad if you see or feel:
- Bright red tonsils
- White or yellow goo covering your tonsils
- A sore throat
- Pain when you swallow
- Pain or swelling in your neck
- A hot forehead
- Stinky breath even after you’ve brushed your
Will I have to visit the
If you have tonsillitis symptoms,
your parents will probably take you to see a doctor usually a pediatrician, or
doctor for children. During your visit, the doctor will:
- Ask questions about your symptoms and how long
you’ve had them
- Look at and feel your head, neck, and throat with
a tongue depressor, small mirror, or lighted instrument
- Look in your ears
- Perform a few tests, like x-rays, blood tests, or
throat cultures, to find out exactly what’s making you sick
Once your doctor examines the results, he or she
will decide if you have tonsillitis.
What happens after the
doctor says I have tonsillitis?
If your doctor decides
you have tonsillitis, he will probably give you an antibiotic, a medicine that
gets rid of bad bacteria. If you have tonsillitis a lot, your doctor will
contact an otolaryngologist (oh-toe-lair-in-goll-oh-gist), a doctor who
specializes in taking care of the ears, nose, and throat. This doctor might tell
you to take some more antibiotics but if your throat continues to hurt, you
might be told you need a tonsillectomy.
What is a
A tonsillectomy (ton-seh-leck-teh-me) is an
operation where your tonsils are taken out of your throat. If you have
tonsillitis a lot, or if your tonsils get really big and you have trouble
breathing, your doctor and parents may decide they need to be removed.
What happens when I have a tonsillectomy?
After dinner the night before your tonsillectomy,
you won’t be allowed to eat or drink anything -- even water!
arrive at the hospital, you’ll put on a special bracelet with your name on it
and hospital clothes. Then you will meet the doctors and nurses that will be
helping you. When the doctor is ready, you’ll be given a special medicine that
makes you fall asleep. Then, the doctor and nurses will use special tools to
remove your tonsils. It doesn’t take very long – just about 20
When you wake up, you will be with your Mom or Dad and the
operation will be all over. Your throat will hurt but the nurses and doctors
will keep an eye on you to make sure you’re okay. In a few hours you will be
ready to go home. Your throat will be sore for a few weeks, but your tonsils
won’t bother you ever again!
What happens after I get
When you get home, be sure to drink a lot and get lots of
rest. It will help to keep your throat moist and your body energized. You can
eat non-dairy popsicles and other cold treats or soft food that makes your
throat feel better, but save ice cream for the next day. Ice cream and other
milk products can make your throat worse right after the operation. Within two
weeks, you’ll be back to school and better than ever!
© 2004 AAO-HNS/AAO-HNSF
Please read our disclaimer. Any information provided on this Web site should not be considered medical advice or a substitute for a consultation with Dr. Hector N. Hernandez or other healthcare professional. If you have a medical problem, contact us for diagnosis and treatment.