CEENTA otolaryngologist Dr. Christopher Tebbit appeared on WCNC's Charlotte Today on October 14, 2021 to discuss tonsil and adenoid health.
Eugene Robinson: If you suffer from sleep apnea or constant nasal congestion, you might have an issue with your tonsils or adenoids.Mia Atkins: That's right, and Dr. Christopher Tebbit from Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates joins us now. Thank you so much for being here today.Dr. Christopher Tebbit: Oh, happy to be here.Eugene: Okay, hello sir. Thank you, and what is the function of tonsils and adenoids?Dr. Tebbit: Ah, good question. So, the tonsils and adenoids are comprised of lymphoid tissue, and what that means is they're part of our immune system. the tonsils and adenoids comprise something called wall dyer's ring, which is actually the tonsils laterally on either side of your throat, the adenoids at the top, and then the lingual tonsils at the back of your tongue. And what they serve to do is to help protect us from various pathogens, bacteria, viruses that actually enter our mouths.They seem to have been more important earlier on in human history, kind of before we had refrigeration and we're cooking our food because we know now that when we remove the tonsils and adenoids, patients don't have any compromise to their immune system.Mia: So, what are some of the symptoms that we need to look out for that, you know, those tonsils and adenoids might be enlarged?Dr. Tebbit: Sure, so there are two common conditions that really affect the tonsils and adenoids that we deal with. One of those is when they do become enlarged it's called tonsillar adenoid hypertrophy, and it happens most commonly in young children. And what happens is the tonsils and adenoids will actually block their airway when they're sleeping and lead pediatric obstructive sleep apnea.Additionally, the tonsils can become infected regularly, and typically that's treated initially with antibiotics. But if they become infected often, we'll actually remove them for definitive therapy for recurrent infections.Eugene: So, I was going to get ready to ask you, so what happens if you’ve got that obstructive airways, I guess? What do you do with the tonsils and adenoids?Dr. Tebbit: Yeah, so at that point we typically will remove them and that will actually fix the problem in children. It's interesting, I have a lot of patients whose children have come and they were having obstructive sleep apnea, which means that when they were falling asleep, the tonsils nowadays are blocking their airway and preventing them from breathing for a short period of time. And we'll remove the tonsils and fix that, but then the parents will come back, “Well, my dad snores too, can we fix that?” And it does not fix it in adults the way it does in children.Mia: Okay, so you kind of mentioned that that's when you're going to remove them and the children, but how do you how do you know when that time has come that you need to remove them?Dr. Tebbit: That's a good question. So, sometimes we do that just by the history with the patients. If the parents can tell you that they've seen their child pause breathing when they're in their deep areas of sleep and they have enlarged tonsils and adenoids on physical exam, we will make the decision to do surgery. If the diagnosis is a little bit in question, we can order what's called a sleep study where the child will actually undergo a study that will document whether or not they have obstructive sleep apnea or not.Eugene: How is the surgery performed? What do you do?Dr. Tebbit: That's a good question. So, it is performed under general anesthesia, so it's typically done as an outpatient, meaning that's done usually at a surgery center and patients will come into that come into that area and be put under general anesthesia and we have something I use what's called a McIver mouth gag retractor. There are various tools to do this, but that opens the mouth, and then using what I use what's called electrocautery, which really looks like a fancy pencil that just has electricity at the end that will actually carve the tonsil away. And it both cuts and coagulates, meaning it stops bleeding at the same time. For the adenoids, we take what's called a suction cautery, which also has electricity at the end, and we apply that electricity to the adenoids and it shrinks them up in a process called fulguration.Mia: Wow! So I’m sure a lot of parents out there when they think about their child undergoing surgery they're thinking about risks. What are some of those?Dr. Tebbit: Oh, that's a very good question. So, the most common risk that happens with tonsillectomy is that patients can have bleeding afterwards. It happens very infrequently, roughly 2 ½ percent of the time by all comers, and it typically actually happens seven-to-ten days after the operation. After we remove the tonsils, there is a scab that forms in that area, and as that scab starts to melt away seven-to-ten days later, occasionally you can unroof a blood vessel that can bleed a little bit. Other complications is it is uncomfortable to have your tonsils out, so sometimes patients will become dehydrated because they don't eat and drink enough. But in general, is a very safe operation to have done.Eugene: Thank you, Doc. We appreciate it. You can find Dr. Tebbit at the Belmont location of Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates. To schedule an appointment, call 704-295-3000, 704-295-3000, or visit their website WeJustMakeSense.com. Thank you sir very, very much.Dr. Tebbit: Thank you for having me.
For tonsil and adenoid treatment, schedule an appointment with Dr. Tebbit at our Belmont office today.
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