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With review and feedback from CEENTA ENT doctor Christopher Tebbit, MD (Belmont)

Tonsillitis is a common childhood ailment, and many children end up needing their tonsils removed. Understandably, many parents are concerned about scheduling their child for surgery during the coronavirus pandemic. While some changes have been implemented, the procedure is still a safe one.

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsils are small glands on either side of the throat that house white blood cells that help fight infection. When tonsils become infected, they can swell and cause sore throats. This is called tonsillitis.

What is a tonsillectomy?

A tonsillectomy is a relatively easy procedure in which a patient's tonsils are removed. Some need the procedure because they frequently get tonsillitis. Others need it because their tonsils have become enlarged, which can cause sleep apnea, eating problems, delayed growth, constant nasal obstruction and congestion, poor alignment of teeth and abnormal facial development, and a poor disposition and irritable behavior.

Tonsils are sometimes removed along with the adenoid, a small gland at the top of the throat behind the nose. The surgery is done under general anesthesia. It typically takes 20-30 minutes, and post-surgical recovery lasts about an hour. Occasionally patients are admitted overnight, most typically because of how young they are.

What has changed in the wake of the coronavirus?

The only major change is patients are now getting tested for COVID before their surgery. Seventy-two hours before surgery, they will go to whichever surgery center their procedure is scheduled for and get a nasal swab, CEENTA ENT doctor Christopher Tebbit, MD, said. After the test the child should be quarantined until their procedure. If the test comes back negative, they can get the procedure done.

Should I postpone my child’s surgery?

Christopher Tebbit, MD

Although tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies aren’t urgent procedures, in most cases there is no need to delay surgery, Dr. Tebbit said.

“Between testing beforehand and everyone in the operating room wearing full personal protective equipment, surgery now is very, very safe and doesn’t need to be delayed,” Dr. Tebbit said.

While circumstances could be different for an immunocompromised child who might need to go to the hospital instead of a surgery center, parents can have that discussion with their child’s doctor before making a decision.

What is the recovery like?

After surgery your child should drink plenty of fluids to say hydrated. Popsicles and ice cream are good summer options. Pain medicine may make them feel more inclined to consume fluids. It may take a little time for them to resume a normal diet, but that’s normal.

Make sure your child gets plenty of bed rest. It’s common for them to want to stay in bed for the first three to five days. While they can get out of bed to play with their siblings when their energy returns, they need to avoid anything that could cause an infection.

COVID should be handled no differently from any other virus, Dr. Tebbit said. If you’ve had a known exposure to the virus or you’re at high risk for contracting it, quarantine yourself away from the recovering child until you’re tested and cleared.

Your child may have a few episodes of nausea, low-grade fever, bad breath, ear pain, mild snoring, or pain, but those are normal. However, you should contact your child’s doctor if they have persistent nausea, breathing problems, severe pain, are vomiting blood, or anything else that alarms you.

Tonsil care at CEENTA

CEENTA’s doctors want your child to be healthy and happy. If you’re concerned about their tonsils, schedule an appointment at one of our offices and they will work to keep them as healthy as possible in the COVID-19 world.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with Dr. Tebbit? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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