A tonsil expert

Reasons for a Tonsillectomy

A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure that is performed to remove your tonsils. Tonsils are the oval-shaped pads of tissue that are located in the back of your throat. Tonsillectomies are usually outpatient procedures, meaning that you will be able to go home after the surgery is complete. The recovery time is usually 10 days to two weeks. The reasons for getting a tonsillectomy can vary, but here are some of the most common.


Tonsillitis is a condition that occurs when your tonsils become inflamed, and it is the most common reason for getting a tonsillectomy. Your tonsils are part of your immune system and produce disease-fighting white blood cells when defending against viruses and bacteria that attempt to enter your body through your mouth. However, because of the location of your tonsils, they are more vulnerable to infection and inflammation, especially among children whose immune systems are more active than adults’.

If you or your child is experiencing frequent episodes of tonsillitis, your doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy. Frequent would be defined as having more than seven episodes in one year, with more than five episodes in each of the preceding two years and more than three episodes in each of the preceding three years.


It is common for infections to occur in your tonsils, especially bacterial infections. Usually bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. However, sometimes severe infections will not respond to treatments. Tonsillectomies may also be recommended for bacterial or viral infections that are not improving with treatment or getting worse.

Tonsillar Abscess

Sometimes, infections will cause a collection of pus to form behind one of your tonsils, which is referred to as a tonsillar abscess. Usually, this can be treated with medications or by undergoing a procedure to drain the abscess. However, sometimes tonsillar abscesses will not respond to medications or draining procedures and will require a tonsillectomy for successful treatment.

Enlarged Tonsils

Sometimes your tonsils can become enlarged after frequent infections, but other times tonsils are just naturally larger than normal. This can cause problems with breathing or swallowing, which can be difficult to deal with during the day, but it is downright dangerous at night if your breathing is disrupted while you sleep. This is referred to as sleep apnea, and it can usually be corrected by undergoing a tonsillectomy to remove the problem.

Diseases of the Tonsils

There are also some rare conditions and diseases that could require a tonsillectomy. One example would be recurrent bleeding due to blood vessels that are close to the surface of your tonsils. Another rare condition that would require removal of your tonsils would be cancer. If this is the case, you may also have to undergo other treatments to make sure all of the cancer was destroyed. You may also need a biopsy of your surrounding lymph nodes to ensure that the cancer did not spread to other organs in your body. 

Last Updated: May 05, 2016