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Many people who suffer from tonsillitis frequently ask if they need their tonsils removing. This is done by tonsillectomy – a surgical procedure which involves removing the tonsils.
The recommended treatment for tonsillitis depends on its severity, how often it occurs and its type: it can be bacterial or viral.
In most cases, a tonsillectomy is not recommended. Having your tonsils removed is usually only recommended where tonsillitis is severe and keeps coming back. The NHS recommends that tonsillectomy may be useful if you have had tonsillitis more than 7 times in a year. Serious conditions such as quinsy (an abscess behind one of your tonsils) may also require a tonsillectomy.
In addition to this, a recent study published in the British Journal of General Practice finds that as many as 7 in 8 children who have their tonsils removed experience no benefit. This suggests that most tonsillectomies which are carried out are not appropriate or necessary.
While tonsillectomy has been shown to be effective at stopping tonsillitis for many patients, you can still get a sore throat after your tonsils have been removed.
More often than not tonsillitis can be treated at home by doing the following:
- Rest often. This helps to speed up the process of healing tonsillitis.
- Drink cool drinks. Not only does this keep you hydrated, it also helps to soothe your throat.
- Take over-the-counter painkillers. Paracetamol and ibuprofen are recommended methods of pain relief for tonsillitis.
- Humidify the air. Using a humidifier can help prevent dry air from further irritating your throat.
- However, if your symptoms are not improving, you are unable to swallow or feel unwell, you should see a doctor for advice.
If you would like to learn more about tonsillitis, Dr Maheinthan Yogeswaran recently co-authored a comprehensive guide to tonsillitis for Medicspot with Professor Antony Narula, an ENT specialist and former President of ENT UK.
Dr Abby Hyams grew up in Manchester and did her medical training in Bristol. She has been a GP for over ten years, many of them as a partner in an NHS practice in Hemel Hempstead and more recently as a GP for Medicspot. Dr Hyams loves being a GP because the wide spectrum of people she encounters every day. Abby joined Medicspot for the opportunity to spend more time with her young family since she was working long hours as an NHS GP partner. With Medicspot, Abby works from home in a clinically supported environment whilst still being able to do NHS work.
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