When tonsils become inflamed for long periods of time, they may have to be surgically removed; this procedure is called a “tonsillectomy.” Though tonsillitis used to be treated with tonsillectomy frequently, it is no longer the practice and is now only done in specific instances.

When inflammation is severe enough, it can interfere with swallowing and breathing. Tonsil removal is indicated in cases of extreme obstruction of the airways or swallowing. Often tonsils are enlarged, swollen and painful during tonsillitis.

Less absolute indications for tonsillectomy include: recurrent strep throat, chronic tonsillitis that does not improve with antibiotics, obstruction leading to bad breath, or changes in voice.