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Article updated: 3/15/2013 10:04 PM

Libertyville doctor helps kids, adults overcome tonsil-related turmoil

Dr. Benjamin C. Johnson, M.D., is an otolaryngologist with Lake County ENT/Head & Neck Specialists in Libertyville

Dr. Benjamin C. Johnson, M.D., is an otolaryngologist with Lake County ENT/Head & Neck Specialists in Libertyville

 

Eric Scott

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By Eric Scott

A good night's sleep can be hard to come by when constant snoring and potentially dangerous sleep apnea keep you from getting any quality rest. Now imagine dealing with such severe sleep issues when you're only five-years-old.

"He would be waking up two to three times a night with severe snoring as well as some sleep apnea," said Robin Carman of Mundelein about her five-year-old son, Trevor. "After talking to my pediatrician about my son's symptoms, he also asked if Trevor was a restless sleeper. That question made me realize just how much of a restless sleeper he was -- waking up 2-3 times a night."

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To get a better understanding of what might be causing her son's sleep issues, Carman's pediatrician referred her to Dr. Benjamin C. Johnson, M.D., an otolaryngologist with Lake County ENT/Head & Neck Specialists in Libertyville. After an initial examination, Dr. Johnson determined that the problem was rooted in her son's tonsils. But rather than recommending a traditional tonsillectomy, Dr. Johnson suggested a special procedure he performs that's less-invasive, less-painful and works for children and adults.

"It's called an intracapsular tonsillectomy and involves shaving off most of the tonsil except for a small amount," explained Dr. Johnson. "By leaving a small portion of the tonsil, the large nerves and blood vessels aren't exposed and that greatly decreases the risk of bleeding and post-procedural pain."

According to Dr. Johnson, intracapsular tonsillectomies are mainly performed on patients with large, obstructing tonsils and not for those suffering from chronic tonsillitis. Furthermore, the recovery often does not require any narcotic pain medicine, which can be dangerous for children. In fact, most patients who've had the procedure only have a mild sore throat for a few days -- compared to the 7-14 days of severe pain that patients may experience following a traditional tonsillectomy.

"I think the actual procedure was only about ten minutes," said Carman of her son's procedure. "He was having a Popsicle and watching cartoons in the recovery area when I went back to be with him and he spent the rest of the day relaxing while eating applesauce and drinking milkshakes."

Carman was also impressed with her son's rapid recovery. "Trevor had the procedure on a Friday morning, went back to school on Monday, and was back to being 100% himself by Wednesday."

"The procedure doesn't take a lot of time and eliminates a lot of soreness and pain that comes afterwards," Dr. Johnson added. "However, intracapsular tonsillectomies are only for specific patients dealing with the negative effects of enlarged tonsils. After an initial discussion with your pediatrician or primary care physician, it may be worth seeking the opinion of an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist if symptoms persist and get worse."

To learn more about intracapsular tonsillectomies and how Lake County ENT/Head & Neck Specialists in Libertyville help children and adults, please visit www.lakecountyent.com or call 847-367-5770.

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