What to Expect after a Tonsillectomy

What to Expect after a Tonsillectomy - What to Expect after a Tonsillectomy

If you or your child is experiencing chronic tonsillitis, it is very likely that a tonsillectomy has been recommended. This procedure involves removing the tonsils, which are masses of immune cells found in lymph glands located in the mouth. The procedure is performed in order to prevent symptoms associated with chronic tonsillitis, including recurring sore throat, abscess, upper airway obstruction causing difficulty swallowing, snoring and sleep apnea, dental malocclusion, and bad breath. Tonsillectomy is a very common outpatient procedure, particularly for children, but there are some things to know for after the procedure.

Expect some Pain

The vast majority of people who have this procedure experience some degree of pain after the surgery, particularly in the throat, ears, and (less frequently) the jaw or neck. The best ways to reduce pain following the procedure include:

  • Going to bed and resting with the head elevated on 2-3 pillows to minimize swelling and edema. Applying an ice pack can also help to reduce swelling.
  • Take all medications as prescribed by the surgeon/doctor. Most commonly, this will involve an antibiotic and a narcotic (usually acetaminophen/Tylenol with Codeine).

Stay Hydrated

It is very important to avoid becoming dehydrated by consuming plenty of fluids after surgery. Water and popsicles/ice pops are good options for getting adequate amounts of fluid.

A Soft, Cool Diet

After recovery from the anesthetic, a light, soft and cool diet is highly recommended. Foods that are bland and easy to swallow, like applesauce or broth, are best following surgery. Ice cream and pudding can be added if they are tolerated. Foods that are easy to chew and swallow are recommended. Hot liquids should be avoided for several days. Similarly, foods that are spicy, acidic, crunchy or hard should be avoided as they can cause pain or bleeding.

Take it Easy

For several days following a tonsillectomy, bed rest is highly recommended. The patient can return to work or school after resuming a normal diet, not needing pain medication, and sleeping normally through the night. Strenuous activity, including running or riding a bike, should be avoided for two weeks after surgery. Talk with your doctor about any other activities to avoid following the procedure.

Always contact your doctor if complications arise after the surgery. These can include persistent vomiting and adverse reactions to medications. It is vitally important to follow all instructions given by healthcare professionals.