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Tonsillectomy Might Be Worth It for Some Adults

Finnish study found fewer sore throats after surgery, less time lost from work or school
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Adults with recurrent sore throats might benefit from getting their tonsils removed, according to a new study from Finland.

People tend to think of tonsillitis -- sore and swollen tissues at the back of the throat -- as occurring in childhood. However, many adults suffer from recurrent sore throats that result when tonsils are inflamed by bacteria living within.

These constant infections can lead to repeated courses of antibiotics and reduce a patient's quality of life, experts say.

"Adult patients who had disabling pharyngitis [severe sore throat] involving the palatine tonsils more than three times per year benefited from tonsillectomy," said lead study author Dr. Timo Koskenkorva, of the department of otorhinolaryngology at the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oulu.

"The rate of inflammation of the throat and number of symptomatic days were significantly lower in the tonsillectomy group than in the control group [study participants who did not have their tonsils removed], resulting in fewer medical visits and absences from school or work," he said.

However, inflammation and sore throats prevented by surgery would likely have been mild and caused by a virus rather than bacteria, Koskenkorva noted. And the surgery does carry some risk and a need for recovery time.

Dr. Linda Dahl, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that adults who might consider a tonsillectomy are those who frequently get sick with sore throats. "No one ever regrets having their tonsils out," she said. "It has an impact on lifestyle."

In addition to not getting the infections, their body isn't fighting the bacteria living in the tonsils, which can make them feel rundown, said Dahl, who was not involved in the new study.

The report was published April 2 in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

To test the benefits of having a tonsillectomy, Koskenkorva's team randomly assigned 86 patients to have the operation or not.

After five months, none of the patients who had a tonsillectomy had a severe sore throat, compared with 3 percent of those who didn't have the operation, the researchers found.

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

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