For adults who get bad sore throats time and time again, removing their tonsils could help, according to a small new study.
The research, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and conducted by researchers from Oulu University Hospital in Finland, shows that tonsillectomy could help to reduce pharyngitis (the name for severe sore throat) rates, the number of days experiencing pain from the condition, and the number of lost work or school days.
"Adult patients who had disabling pharyngitis involving the palatine tonsils more than three times per year benefited from tonsillectomy," study researcher Dr. Timo Koskenkorva told WebMD.
The study included 86 people with pharyngitis. Forty-six of them underwent tonsillectomy (surgical removal of the tonsils), while 40 did not undergo the procedure.
Five months later, researchers followed up with the study participants to see if their pain levels had changed. When they followed up with them, one of the people in the control group who didn't have the procedure reported having a sore throat, while none of those in the tonsillectomy group reported this. And among those who received tonsillectomy, just two of them (or 4 percent) said that they had gone to a doctor over the five-month period, compared with 17 (43 percent) of those who didn't get the procedure.
Fewer people in the tonsillectomy group reported having experienced a severe sore throat during the study period -- 18 (or 39 percent) of them, compared with 32 people (or 80 percent) in the control group.
However, both the tonsillectomy and control groups reported their throat pain as mild.
Researchers noted that a big limitation to the study is that those who got the tonsillectomy knew that they were undergoing the procedure, so it's possible they were biased when reporting their sore throat symptoms at the end of the study. But still, the findings are intriguing especially for people who suffer from severe sore throats and have been unable to find any effective solution.
According to the Mayo Clinic, tonsillectomy is used most often today to treat sleep-disordered breathing, though it is also used sometimes as a treatment for tonsillitis (tonsil infection or inflammation). Risks of the procedure include bleeding during or after the procedure, swelling that causes problems breathing, and anesthesia reactions. And recovery time (sometimes painful!) is needed for after the procedure.
Of course, it's important to talk with your doctor before considering a tonsillectomy. For less invasive ways to help soothe a sore throat, click through the slideshow for some tips from our partner Health.com: