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Tonsillectomy in adults - please come and share your experiences

(53 Posts)
Blatherskite Thu 16-Feb-12 19:06:34

In the last 12 months I've had tonsillitis 7 times. I had back-to-back episodes from March through to about November last year, then thankfully a break over Christmas and then I started getting symptoms again last Friday.

Each time I've had at least 1 course of antibiotics, sometimes two, and by November last year, they'd destroyed my gut flora so badly that I was getting tummy troubles too.

The severity of the tonsillitis has ranged from nothing more than a badly sore throat through to fever and shivers and being unable to get out of bed.

My doctor had said that after 5 swab confirmed cases, I would be able to get referred to a specialist to see about possibly getting them taken out but on one occasion when I had tonsillitis but he was on leave, the locum doctor told me that there was no way I would be able to get them taken out as they didn't do the operation for adults any more. She refused to take a swab and as I hadn't had a swab done for the first case, that left me with only 4 confirmed cases.

My doctor has left the practice now so I have a new doctor who I have not met yet and was unable to see this week as he is on leave but I did have my throat swabbed by a nurse.

I guess what I'm asking is should I make an appointment with the doctor when he gets back to ask about a tonsillectomy? They must still do them for adults in some areas as I've seen threads on here before about Mners having them. And if I can have one, do I really want one? I've heard that it is an awful operation for an adult and can be fraught with complications. I've also heard that it doesn't necessarily stop someone from getting infections - that with tonsils removed, the surrounding tissue gets infected instead and that this is harder to treat than bog-standard tonsillitis.

Right now, I feel like a tonsillectomy would be a good thing. My tonsils are really, really swollen and are pushing my tongue out of place, making it uncomfortable to turn my head and giving me a really painful ear and jaw, plus I have a headache and feel very run down - Eating and drinking hurt and I feel miserable and very, very lucky that DH has managed to take today and tomorrow off work to help me out over half term. I was on my own at the beginning of the week, including Wednesday when the pain was at it's worst (before I got the ABs as they wouldn't prescribe until they had the swab results back) and I was totally miserable and not a lot of fun for the Children. I'm not sure how I'll cope if we get back to the 2 weeks on/3 weeks off routine that I had last Summer with this infectionsad

But in a week or so when the Abs have done their job, I'm sure I'll feel differently again - until the next time. Friends and relatives have been pushing me to see the doctor and push for the operation but I'm scared. If you've had recurrent tonsillitis - and have managed to stay with me through this huge post! - would you push for having them out?

cocolepew Thu 16-Feb-12 19:21:16

I went to my DR and said I was missing too much work, he referred me to ENT and and I got them out. This was when I was 40, I'm not sure where the idea that it's not done for adults from.

It was the best thing I could have done, hideous for 2 weeks but no sore throats since.

Go to your Dr and ask for a referral, good luck.

Conflugenglugen Thu 16-Feb-12 19:27:32

I had my tonsils out at 26, and have not regretted it one bit. There were no complications, but the recovery is much longer, and the pain is excruciating for about 2 weeks, as cocolepew says. No tonsillitis again for me, though you can still have it because they can't remove all the tonsil -- although even if you do, surely it will be more limited because there's less of them?

I'd go for it if you're getting infected at that rate.

Blatherskite Thu 16-Feb-12 19:35:31

I'm a SAHM at the moment so no work to miss, although looking after the children has obviously suffered whenever I've been ill. This won't be forever though and if I carry on getting infections at this rate, I'll never be able to hold down a job when I do want to go back.

The locum doctor who told me there was no chance of a tonsillectomy was a trainee GP from the hospital and her 'bedside manner' left a lot to be desired hmm

Two weeks of excruciating pain sounds awful but then I guess I've been in pain for longer that that already with all of these infections.

Glad to hear you haven't regretted it though

Bonsoir Thu 16-Feb-12 19:37:48

You definitely need a tonsillectomy. I had one when I was 24 and it just put an end, forever, to the misery of twice (or more) yearly bouts of tonsillectomy that had me in bed for a week to ten days at a time.

Tonsillitis kills. You do know that?

LadySybilDeChocolate Thu 16-Feb-12 19:39:11

Pleased you're getting it sorted (it's belledechocolat). I had mine taken out when I was 23. It was OK, I had an infection afterwards though which was a PITA. It's no worse then having tonsillitis. I've had no problems since. I'd demand an ENT appointment, you can't carry on like this.

SwedishEdith Thu 16-Feb-12 19:41:17

Definitely get them out. Tonsillitis can get worse sometimes and develop into quinsy, I think. I do still get a lot of sore throats though (presumably from a lack of tonsils? confused)

mummynoseynora Thu 16-Feb-12 19:42:10

I had mine out at about 20... I remember my doc telling me they could refer for tonsilectomy but I'd really have to fight to get them taken out hmm next time I came down with it I saw a different doctor who took one look and referred me as she had had it done as an adult and had no probs since. At the assesment for it I was there a total of about 2 minutes, all they checked was if there was visible scaring on my tonsils - bosh, booked in

Like the others I had pain after - I wouldn't say it was 2 weeks constantly though, it was the first few days after the op then got better for a couple of days and then really sore to swallow for another few days probably 10 days total with a gap in between

I haven't had so much as a sore throat since (I was getting it every other month or so for around 18 months before referral)

Blatherskite Thu 16-Feb-12 19:43:20

No, I didn't know it could kill!!!

Thanks Belle, I figured it was about time I stopped whining on Twitter about it and looked into actually getting it sorted smile

LadySybilDeChocolate Thu 16-Feb-12 19:44:47

Quinsy is nasty! sad

Well done! wink

Blatherskite Thu 16-Feb-12 19:45:59

A relative of mine has just has Quinsey - I definitely do not want that!!

I'm just hoping my new doctor isn't of the same school of thought as the locum or else I've got a big fight on my hands!

sillymillyb Thu 16-Feb-12 19:54:11

warning: mine is not a straightforward account, and was really rare!

I had mine out when I was 25/26, after getting tonsillitis religiously every 6 weeks - ranging from bearable to having to be admitted to hospital for steroids and help breathing. My doctor was trying to persuade me for ages but I was a giant wimp and didn't want to do it.

In the end, I had the op and to be honest, whilst it was the best decision I could have made I had complications which meant I really suffered at the time.

The surgeon basically ballsed up and made a hole about the size of a 50p piece in the side of my throat by accident. Because of the swelling and the fact your throat gets covered in pus, it wasn't discovered for about 10 days - when I was readmitted and put on lots of antibiotics and morphine. I took about a month to recover all in, and I needed 5 weeks off work. I had just assumed I had a really low pain thresh hold and thats why I was finding it so hard, so was almost relieved to discover there was a problem!

Anyway, despite the above - I haven't had any problems since and the relief of that is incredible. I would still, knowing what happened to me, have the op again - even though it was horrible at the time. Oh, and it was really rare. As described above, most people don't have any issues.

Squeegle Thu 16-Feb-12 20:00:47

I am 46, I suffered with atrocious tonsillitis for years. Icing on the cake was something called quinsy - excoriating pain!!! Tonsils out- my life has changed - it's a miracle, not one sore throat since I had them out 4 years ago. Op itself was fine, to be honest it was a pleasure having a nice rest in hospital as I went when the DCs were very small. The worst bit was about 4 days later, quite uncomfortable- but after that it soon got better, it was lovely to have 2 weeks off work. I really would recommend having it done- have never looked backsmile

BigFatSpider Thu 16-Feb-12 20:01:04

I agree, OP - push to get them out.

I had recurrent bouts every 9-11 weeks for over 2 years - constantly on ABs, with effectiveness decreasing over time. It was getting beyond a joke so asked GP straight out if he could please refer me to ENT - job done. Waiting list was c.3 months, pre-op assessment no more than a formality.

I had the op at 33 and although recovery was painful, the relief of no more infection has been blissful! Had 3 weeks off work, I think, and was singing again (my biggest concern about sharp implements in close proximity to my vocal cords!) within 2 months.

Good luck smile

pooka Thu 16-Feb-12 20:08:23

I had a 6 week long bout of tonsillitis before Christmas, and seem to get it every year despite never having had it until I was 32. I've seen an ENT and had blood tests because the gp and ENT consultant were concerned might be EBV (Epstein Barr/glandular fever). The ent's take on it is that if i do have EBV antibodies, then I will have to have tonsils out because the virus will just not shift.

I can't work out whether I'm hoping it is or it isn't. I don't know - would like never to have recurrence.

Blatherskite Thu 16-Feb-12 20:12:20

I'm 33. The DC are just 2 and very-nearly-almost 5.

My biggest worry (aside from the pain and the GA!) is that I am our childcare at the moment and would probably need a fair amount of help while I recovered. I guess it's plan-able though and would hopefully put a stop to my children having to cope with a poorly Mummy so often.

Seems like a 100% positive for pushing for the op - even sillymilly smile - I guess I'll call the surgery tomorrow and ask for an appointment. <scared>

Blatherskite Thu 16-Feb-12 20:15:56

That's interesting pooka. I've never heard of EBV. My old Doctors suggestion was that I wasn't catching tonsillitis each time, but rather that I'd had it constantly and it was just showing symptoms each time my defences got low.

headfairy Thu 16-Feb-12 20:27:57

I had mine out when I was 23, I did have glandular fever very badly when I was 17 (hospitalised, off school for three months) so maybe that's why my GP was happier to refer me. I too lurched from one course of antibiotics to the next, with maybe a week between bouts of tonsilitis. Also, it was 18 years ago now so maybe practices have changed.

Also I was covered by a work Bupa scheme so I had it done privately. Not sure if that affects my experience. Anyway, it was painful, it took me a good three weeks to be pain free. I was also quarantined, no one apart from immediate family were allowed to see me, as the chance of catching an infection at the op site were apparently higher.

I also had a little relapse at 2 weeks and haemorraged and coughed up lumps of black goo for days and days (dried blood and pus). It's not pretty at all. Plus you don't get to eat jelly and ice cream any more, it's scratchy food all the way. I was handed a packets of crisps as my first post op food shock. It took me about 2 hours to eat that bloody packet of crisps! Then they handed me a ryvita the bastards!

That said, I noticed the difference instantly. I rarely get sore throats now, in fact I rarely get colds now. I used to also get lots and lots of bronchitis and I don't get that any more either. I think the tonsils just became these hideous infected blobs that made me ill all the time. So good to see the back of them.

mumsachocoholic Thu 16-Feb-12 20:28:13

My dh had them out last year he was 26. The gp's wern't doing anything so he made an appointment to go private and get a referrel...paid £80 for 5 mins of the specialists time.
.he took one look at my dh's massive scarred tonsills and said he''s write a letter to the gp's surgery for my dh to be put on the nhs waiting list as we didn't have £1000 to have them out privately.
Dh had to wait 3 months and had his op. went in in the morning and was out by the evening. he said its the best thing he's done.
i'd push to have them out op. good

Blatherskite Thu 16-Feb-12 20:34:35

That's pretty much what the GP said headfairy, that my tonsils were just pumping infection around my body and were making me ill.

I can't face the thought of scratchy food now never mind with two open wounds in my throat!! shock

headfairy Thu 16-Feb-12 20:42:23

I think the scratchy food is to stimulate healing, so whilst it might sound painful it'll be worth it in the end.

I think the point at which your tonsils become more of a liability than a help is the point at which they have to come out.

the GA I had was really short, so short infact that there was a radio playing in theatre, and I woke from the anaesthetic just in time to hear the end of the song that was playing just as I went under grin unless I'd actually been out for weeks and it was just a co-incidence It does make your jaw ache for a couple of days too, they have to unhook it to get down there!

Blatherskite Thu 16-Feb-12 20:48:38

Un-hook my jaw!! shock

I've had 2 c-sections so have been in theatre before but I've never had a GA.

Canella Thu 16-Feb-12 20:59:30

Agree with everything the PP have said - if you're having recurrent bouts then its worth having them out. I was 20 when I had mine out. I was home the next day but it was very painful to speak & ear for about a week but by 10 days post op I was fine.
The only problem I've had is that I tend to lose my voice now if I get a bad cold. Like to the point of just a whisper coming out & i'm sure this is related to having no tonsils. But its not painful so much better than tonsillitis.
Good luck with getting the referral sorted.

headfairy Thu 16-Feb-12 21:00:51

Well, I think there's a technical term for it. They basically stretch out the jaw muscles so they can pull your jaw right down to access the little germy buggers. My cons made my chew gum the rest of the day to get my jaw muscles working again.

I've had several GAs, I'm not too bothered by them. I don't particularly like having the thingy stuck in the back of my hand (needle thingy, you know what I mean grin) but going under is quite nice really. Just don't fight it. Think of it as a lovely deep sleep the like of which you won't get with small children charging around grin I always get a bit weepy afterwards though, and all shivery and cold. If they take pity on you the recovery nurses might give you one of those bear hugger heat thingys - they have done a few times with me because I've been so weepy <pathetic emoticon>

Tinwe Thu 16-Feb-12 21:03:58

Another person in favour here. I had tonsillitis almost constantly for a year, with 9 courses of 7 different antibiotics leading to complications like thrush and tummy trouble. Had my op when I was mid 20s, was eating crusty rolls no probably by that night, was less sore than the tonsillitis in my experience! They had warned me they'd be taking about the size of a walnut from each side but ended up having to take plums as they were so badly infected - they would never have healed. The worst part for me was that I was given a codine based pain killer for the first time in my life which made me ill. Took us a week to realise the throwing up wasn't due to the anaesthetic. Still, despite being violently sick for days I don't remember two weeks of "agony", think it was much less for me.

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