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"Is it too late to have my tonsils removed?"

ZocdocAnswersIs it too late to have my tonsils removed?


I'm 41 years old and had a bad case of tonsillitis last year. I don't want it to happen again. Can I willingly have my tonsils removed or am I too old? Is there an age cut off where they won't take your tonsils out?


Sorry to hear that you had such a bad episode of tonsillitis last year, and that you are worried it might happen again. You ask a good question about age limits for getting your tonsils out...the short answer is there isn't really a limit. However, the tonsils are lymphoid tissue, and in children their immune systems are ramped up, and they are exposed to so many "germs" so all of their lymphoid tissue seems to hypertrophy (over grow). This is why most tonsils/adenoids are taken out in children. The most common reason for taking out tonsils now is actually for sleep apnea which is where the tonsils get so large that they actually obstruct the airway while sleeping. In adulthood, lymphoid tissue tends to shrink back down, and doesn't cause problems, thus if you make it through adolescence with your tonsils, usually you keep them for the rest of your life. There are reasons we take them out in adults as well however. If you get multiple episodes of strep positive tonsillitis (6-7 in 1 year, or 2-3 a year for a couple years in a row), if for some reason they stayed large and may be contributing to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), if you have had 1-2 episodes of developing a peri-tonsillar abscess, or if they are asymmetric, and there is worry that there may be a lymphoma. Since adults have had their tonsils longer, and thus had more infections over their lifetime, it tends to hurt much more to get them out as an adult. Kids usually bounce back in 3-4 days, adults in about 2 weeks. I would recommend making an appointment with an ENT more information about having you tonsils removed, and to obtain their opinion. Best of luck.

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