How to Recover from Tonsillectomy Quickly

If you want to recover from tonsillectomy quickly, you need to know what happens during tonsillectomy and how to take care of yourself afterwards.

If you’re considering having a surgical removal of your tonsils (tonsillectomy), you might want to know how long you will be off of work or school. Everyone is different, so there is no one unified answer to this question. Your body will heal in its normal time. The time of tonsillectomy recovery also depends on the method that your doctor uses to remove your tonsils, your general health condition, your age, and how well you take care of yourself after the procedure. There are a lot of factors to consider, but there are some useful tips for recovering from tonsillectomy and estimates that may help you with your tonsillectomy planning.

Tonsillectomy Recovery Time

It takes around 7-10 days to recover from tonsillectomy for most children and approximately 2-3 weeks for adults. You should keep in mind that any surgical procedure, including a tonsillectomy, takes about 1 year to completely recover and heal. You will feel better before this, but the incisions have to heal for some time. Below are various recovery times for different age groups:

Age

Recovery Time

Children Aged 2-5

  • In few days: feeling better
  • In 2 weeks: back to normal activities

Keep in mind that most children aged 2-5 will want to engage in normal activities earlier than this, but as there is a high risk of bleeding 7-10 days after the procedure, they should still be careful.

Children Aged 5-12

  • Within the first week: feeling better
  • In 2 weeks: back to normal activities and can eat solid foods
  • In 1 year: completely healed

Adolescents Aged 12-19

  • Within the first 2 weeks: feeling better
  • In 2 weeks: back to normal activities and can eat solid foods
  • In 1 year: completely healed

Healthy Adults Aged 19+

  • Within the first 2 weeks: feeling better
  • In 2 weeks: can eat solid foods
  • In 2-3 weeks: back to normal activities
  • In 1 year: completely healed
What Will You Experience During Tonsillectomy Recovery?

1. Pain

The main post-tonsillectomy symptom is a sore throat. You can also feel pain in your ears, jaw or neck. Children who do not talk yet may display restlessness, fussiness or crankiness. Pain can last up to 2 weeks.

2. Bad Breath and Snoring

Some people report bad mouth breath and snoring after the surgery. This occurs because of the white or yellowish membrane formed in the throat in the area of the tonsillectomy. Breathing will return to normal after swelling reduces, which is in about 2 weeks after the surgery.

3. Fever

A minor fever can be reported at the day of the surgery and for a few days after it. See your doctor if the fever is higher than 102°F (38.9°C).

A low grade fever is normal for a few days after surgery and acetaminophen (Tylenol) should be given every 4-6 hours.

4. Slight Bleeding

You should not experience a severe bleeding, but you might notice small specks of blood in your saliva or nose. If heavy bleeding happens, contact your doctor as soon as possible or take your child to the emergency room.

A scab will form where the tonsils and adenoids were removed. These scabs are thick, white, and cause bad breath. Most scabs fall off in small pieces 5-10 days after surgery and are swallowed. You may notice a small amount of blood when this occurs.

5. Change of Voice

During the first week you may observe that your child’s or your voice sounds different.

6. Nausea and Vomiting

You or your child may suffer from nausea and vomiting from the general anesthetic for some few hours after the surgery.

When to Seek Medical Care

Seek medical care immediately if you feel any of these symptoms:

  • High fever. Contact your doctor if you or your child has a high-grade fever -- 102°F or more.
  • Bleeding. Go to emergency room immediately in case of any bleeding. At times, surgical procedure may be required to stop the bleeding.
  • Breathing problems. Noisy breathing or snoring is normal during the first weeks of the recovery. But you should get emergency care if you or your child have difficulty in breathing.
  • Dehydration. Contact your doctor if you notice signs of dehydration, such as thirst, reduced urination, weakness, headache or dizziness. Keep an eye for the signs of dehydration in your child, which include crying without no tears or urinating fewer.
  • Uncontrolled pain and vomiting. Get immediate emergency care if you or your child continues to vomit for 12-24 hours and is experiencing pain that is not controlled by the pain relief that was prescribed.

How to Take Care of Yourself During Tonsillectomy Recovery Period

1. Take Medications

Take pain relievers as prescribed by your doctor. Give pain medications to your child on a regular basis as long as it is needed. In addition to pain relievers, antibiotics can be prescribed to adults to help the throat heal without developing an infection. Taking antibiotics will also help to get rid of a bad mouth breath.

2. Stay Hydrated

It is crucial to stay hydrated after the tonsillectomy. Drink a lot of water or use ice pops. Avoid dairy products for the first 24 hours after the surgery to reduce the possibility of vomiting and nausea. Avoid using straws, as they may damage the surgical sites. Your child can drink water from a sippy cup, as there is no risk of damaging the throat.

3. Eat a Proper Diet

Start with clear liquids, like broth, water, apple juice, and popsicles, Hi-C, Jell-O or Kool-Aid. Eat soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow, such as broth or applesauce right after the tonsillectomy.

What to Eat

What Not to Eat

  • Cold Foods

The cold foods can help with the swelling and pain. Frozen fruit pops, popsicles and sorbet are perfect.

  • Spicy or Acidic Foods

Avoid eating such foods as oranges, lemons and grapefruits because they are acidic and can cause sore throat. Spicy foods can also lead to irritation.

  • Soft Foods

Pasta, mashed potatoes, soups and cottage cheese (after 24 hours) are great choices.

  • Hot Foods

Avoid eating hot foods, as they may cause pain. Let your food cool down before eating.

  • Water, Juice, Athletic Drinks, Punch

Those drinks will help you with swelling and pain, if served cold.

  • Hard Foods

Do not eat hard foods during your recovery. Avoid eating any kind of chips and crunchy foods, as they can cause severe pain.

5. Have Enough Rest

Have a bed rest during the first days after tonsillectomy and avoid any hard physical activities like bike riding or running during the first 2 weeks after the surgery.

You or your child can return back to work or school after resuming a regular diet, not needing pain relievers and sleeping well though the night. Ask your doctor’s advice about any activities that you or your child should avoid.

6. Apply Cold or Warm Compress

In addition to pain medication, an ice collar can help to reduce post-surgical pain in the throat. Place ice cubes and water in a big Ziploc bag and wrap it in a towel. Put the ice pack on the front side of the neck. In case of neck pain, place a bottle of hot water on your neck.

Tips:

1. Avoid taking aspirin or any medications that contain aspirin, such as Codis, Aspro, Aspro Clear and others. These medicines can increase the risk of bleeding and cause a Reye syndrome which is a rare health condition that leads to brain and liver swelling.

2. Don’t drive while taking pain relievers.

3. Avoid having contact with people who have flu, cold or sore throat.

4. You can blow your nose, sneeze or cough without any problems. Taking a bath or shower and brushing your teeth should not cause any issues.

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