Ear Nose Throat
A tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils, the two pads located at either side of the back of the throat. The tonsils serve as part of the immune system, a first line of defense for pathogens entering the mouth or nose. Because of their function, they may become infected or inflamed and, in some cases, may require surgical removal. Tonsillectomies are more commonly performed on children than adults. A tonsillectomy may be necessary when an individual has recurring episodes of tonsillitis or an ongoing infection that has not healed with other treatment. Surgery may also be required if enlarged tonsils block airways, leading to sleep apnea, swallowing problems or difficulty eating. Rarely, a tonsillectomy may be performed to treat a malignancy of the tonsils.
Traditionally, tonsillectomies have been performed with a scalpel under general anesthesia during a procedure which usually takes approximately an hour. In recent decades, many types of surgical procedures have become available for use in tonsillectomies. General or local anesthetics may be used, depending upon the method employed. Most patients return home several hours after the operation and are expected to heal within about 2 weeks. Some types of tonsillectomy procedures result in shorter recovery times and less postsurgical soreness, but not all types of surgery are appropriate for all patients.
For mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, treatment often consists of using methods to avoid sleeping on one's back. For people with significant nasal congestion, a decongestant therapy may be prescribed. Patients with obstructive and central apnea should avoid central nervous system depressants such as alcoholic beverages, sedatives and narcotics. Weight loss and diet control are encouraged for overweight patients.
More serious cases of Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be associated with long intervals where an individual does not take a breath. This results in a lower oxygen level in the blood and increased strain on the heart. The extent of the obstruction can be determined with a Polysomnogram or Sleep Study. Depending upon the results, the individual may be a candidate for surgical procedures to enhance airflow in the nose or in the throat. In other instances, sleep apnea can be relieved by a treatment called nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nasal CPAP). Nasal CPAP uses a mask-like device and pump that keep the airway open during each inspiration.
Our office provides screening Audiograms to evaluate hearing and ear drum function. If indicated, Dr. Wall will make referrals to a facility where the patient can purchase a hearing aid.