Sussex ENT: Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust
Worthing and Southlands Hospital


The tonsils

The Tonsils are a pair of glands at the back of your throat. They are involved in fighting infection along with several other glands close by.  Childrens tonsils are usually large as they have a smaller head and spend the early years being introduced to frequent infections. Having the tonsils removed does not impair the bodies response to further infection. 



Infection of the tonsils causes sore throat with enlargement of the tonsils. Swallowing becomes painful and there are general features of infection such a tiredness, fever and poor appetite. It can occur due to bacterial and viral infection. Antibiotics are not always required. You would be very lucky to never have suffered from tonsillitis at some time. However some people have more frequent episodes than others. GPs may ask us to see patients who have very frequent episodes. In children this could also be causing lots of time off school.


When are they removed (Tonsillectomy)?

When somebody has Tonsillitis multiple times a year for around 2 years they may be suitable for a Tonsillectomy. Other reasons for a Tonsillectomy are for obstructive sleep apnoea in children, multiple Quinsy or suspected cancer.


What happens when you have a Tonsillectomy?

This is a very common operation for the ENT surgeon. Under a General anaesthetic the tonsils are removed. An overnight stay is usually required to observe and keep comfortable. Patients will be encouraged to eat as soon as possible, textured food such as crisps help remove debris following the operation and prevent infection. On going home regular pain relief will be required as the throat will be sore, the pain usually gets worse at the end of 1 week. Two weeks off school/work and avoiding strenuous/boitrous activity is required.


What are the risks?

Any operation will carry a degree of risk. With Tonsillectomy bleeding is carefully observed for. This can occur during shortly after the procedure, which is why it is important to observe in hospital. Once at home there is a low risk of bleeding 2-5% which almost always happens in the 2 week rest period. If it occurs you will need to be seen in the nearest hospital. After an assessment somebody may require further observation. Of these cases where the bleeding was significant few cases (5%) require a further anaesthetic to stop the bleeding.



What follow up is needed?

No follow up is required following a Tonsillectomy for frequent tonsillitis.