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Tonsillitis And Tonsillectomy

What To Expect After Tonsil Removal (tonsillectomy)

Last updated on:
16/08/2012

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

 

What to expect after tonsil removal surgery:

Your child will likely experience moderate nasal congestion and drainage, a sore throat, and earaches for a few days after surgery. Allow about two weeks for full recovery. During this time, keep your child from engaging in strenuous physical activity.

  • It is best for a parent to be at the bedside when the child wakes up from surgery.
  • Be prepared for your child to experience substantial pain while swallowing for the first day or two. Swallowing may continue to be somewhat painful for 4 or 5 days.
  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain. Aspirin should not be used. Ice packs applied to your child's neck may also help.

Need To Know:

Avoid Aspirin!

  • The child should never be given aspirin to control pain after surgery because it reduces the clotting ability of the blood and increases the risk of bleeding. It may also cause Reye's syndrome.
  • When your child's appetite returns, encourage him or her to eat and drink. Many children find it more comfortable to swallow warm liquids than cold ones.

Activity

  • Your child should rest for 2 or 3 days, and then resume normal activities gradually.
  • Have your child avoid vigorous exercise for two weeks after surgery.
  • Bathe or shower your child as usual.

Diet

  • Following tonsillectomy, swallowing tends to be quite painful for the first day or two and somewhat painful for 4 or 5 days. Nonetheless, you should encourage your child to eat and drink as soon as any postoperative nausea has subsided. Many children find it more comfortable to swallow warm liquids than cold.

Back To School

Usually, children can return to school (and adults to work) about a week after surgery. However, if there have been any complications or if your child does not feel perfectly well, return to school should be delayed accordingly. Rest at home not only helps recovery from surgery but also helps to minimize contact with other children who may have contagious respiratory infections.

How-To Information:

WHEN SHOULD YOU CALL THE DOCTOR?

You should call your child's doctor if you notice any symptoms that suggest the onset of complications or infection, including the following.

  • Bleeding
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Coughing, spitting, or vomiting blood
  • Increased pain, swelling, redness, drainage, or bleeding in the surgical area
  • Signs of infection, including headache, muscle aches, dizziness, or a general ill feeling and fever
  • New, unexplained symptoms

Keep in mind that drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.

 

 
 

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.