The annoying pain and discomfort envelop our imagination when we think about tonsils, right? We all have suffered from tonsillitis, sometimes frequently and sometimes seasonal.
Tonsils can be formed by a virus such as common cold, or by a bacterial infection, such as strep throat. Tonsils are basically two lymph nodes located on each side on the back of your throat. They help to prevent the body from infection by functioning as a defense mechanism. When tonsils become infected, the condition is called tonsillitis and that is a common childhood illness and can occur any time throughout the lifetime. Tonsils fight infection as a part of the immune system.
Types of tonsils
There are three types of tonsils–
- Palatine tonsils: These are at the top of the throat.
- Adenoids or tonsilla pharyngealis: These are situated in the nasal cavity.
- Lingual tonsils: These are in the throat below the palatine tonsils.
This was a basic introduction to the commonly heard term- Tonsils. Now, moving further we need to understand post tonsil surgery precautions to be taken for a better and speedy recovery. Firstly, we need to understand tonsillectomy.
What is a tonsillectomy?
It is a surgical procedure in which a surgeon removes the palatine tonsils from the top of a person’s throat. A study conducted in 2015 concluded that people who have undergone tonsillectomy saw an overall improvement in health and quality of life.
The procedure takes about 30 minutes and is performed by giving general anesthesia to the patient to ensure that the patient goes through a painless surgery while being asleep. In maximum cases, the patient can go home the same day of surgery. There are three different ways in which a surgeon can perform tonsillectomy depending upon the situation-
- Using ultrasonic vibration to cut the tonsil away.
- Cut the tonsils out using a scalpel.
- Cauterizing the tonsils using heat.
Also Read: Facts sheet for Tonsillectomy!
Patient might observe several complications which can be overcome with respective doctor’s guidance. Such complications could be:
- Reactions to the anesthesia
- Bleeding at the surgical site
- Breathing problems (Also Read: Home Remedies For Tonsil Stones And Bad Breath)
People often think that surgery is the final answer to a problem. It’s not so! Aftercare matters a lot. So here are some precautions that a person should stick to after the surgery is done. These are:
Drink plenty of fluids:
Drinking plenty of liquids will help in reducing the risk of bleeding and getting dehydrated. Also, it helps in improving healing. You can drink apple, soft drinks or grape juice. Do not drink orange juice or grapefruit juice. Citrus may hurt the throat.
Rest as much as possible:
Resting helps every time. Take proper rest, sit upright most of the time or in a position that won’t cause stress or tension in the surgery area. It may take 2-3 weeks for you to recover from surgery. One must take proper rest for a full recovery.
- Eat a bland diet/ Have foods that are easy to swallow, for example- mashed bananas:
You can eat mashed bananas and mashed potatoes to avoid any kind of pain while swallowing. Potatoes should only be consumed if your stomach is not upset.
- Avoid eating sharp foods (Such as chips):
Also, you should avoid hot and spicy food as it will hurt your tonsil area and you might feel sudden burning, pain and bleeding if you keep coughing continuously.
- Humidified air will keep the throat moist:
(This is not a precautionary tip. You can write something like – Avoid dry air that causes cough / Inhale humidified air)
Avoid dry air that causes cough and pain. Instead, inhale humidified air as much as possible. Humid air helps to soothe your throat by moistening the air.
- Avoid milk and dairy foods:
Avoid lactose if you are prone to having thick mucus in your throat as its production will cause you to cough and eventually hurt your surgery areas hampering the healing process.
- Keep your head and shoulders raised up to reduce swelling:
Elevation will help in reducing swelling by decreasing the blood flow to the affected area.
- Avoid further infections:
Stay away from infected people who have colds, sore throat, or flu. Your immune system is more vulnerable to getting infections after surgery. So, better be safe than sorry.
There are patients who do not take post-surgery precautions. They may notice bleeding. Therefore, take care of these things and talk to the doctor to know what to do in the following situations.
- If you have a small amount of bleeding: Drink ice-cold water, sit down and rest without panicking.
- Heavy incessant bleeding: Rush to the emergency department immediately without wasting any moment as the condition might get worse.
- Smoke is a real threat after surgery. Abstain from smoking or even going to smoky areas as smoke will immediately cause your throat to start bleeding heavily.
- Wrap a bag of crushed ice in a towel and place it on your neck as a primary measure to prevent bleeding.
- Avoid very hot water while taking a shower or washing your face as it might cause bleeding.
- Avoid harsh gargling or mouth rinsing. Be gentle while brushing your teeth. Haste is a big no-no post-surgery.
- Avoid coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose as it might create a sudden impact and cause bleeding.
Talk to your ENT doctor in case you have any cold allergies, he/she will provide you with the best medicines and measures immediately.
- Pain killers: Do not wait for the pain to get terrible. If you have pain before eating, take pain medicine before starting to eat as prescribed by the doctor. Do not take aspirin. This will increase the risk of bleeding.
- Antibiotics: If the doctor prescribes you antibiotics, take the full course of antibiotics as they help to prevent the infection. Do not stop in between.
- Contact your primary health provider in case some medicines give you side effects.
- Keep a proper track of time and daily routine when it comes to consuming medicines with particular doses. Always carry your medicines with you. You never know when an emergency may arise out of nowhere.
These were some vital points to be considered post tonsil surgery. Now, if something goes wrong and you need to attend the emergency immediately, then you must prepare yourself.
When to call for medical attention post-surgery:
In the following circumstances, you should contact your doctor ASAP to avoid any kind of complication if you notice:
- Swollen face or neck with redness which doesn’t subside soon.
- Severe earache or throat pain that keeps on getting worse.
- Some itchiness or skin irritation which might be a possible allergy against some of your medicine.
- Pus or blood in your throat or mouth area.
- Pain and stiffness in earache with heaviness in the chest region.
- Trouble breathing or swallowing.
- You are not able to drink or pass very little urine all day.
- Weakness or strained or are likely to faint when you stand up.
- If you observe bright red bleeding from your nose or mouth which looks worse than what you were told.
These are some important insights regarding postoperative tonsil care. Most of the time, we are not aware of the dos and don’ts during tonsils as we never expect any mishap or ailment that may need surgery. This blog will help you to clear many doubts. Also, talk to your doctor for proper guidance as per your condition. People and conditions vary. Hence, you must not follow any instructions blindly without talking to your doctor. Always keep your doctor’s name and number handy in case any emergency occurs or drop your query below.