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Alabama Nasal and Sinus Center
St. Vincent 's Health and Wellness
7191 Cahaba Valley Road,
Suite 301
Birmingham, Al 35242
Phone: (205) 980-2091

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Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy Postoperative Instructions

The patient may experience any of the following after tonsillectomy:

  • Pain - Most patients experience sore throat pain for 7 to 10 days.  Many will also complain of ear pain.  This is usually due to irritation from the surgery and not ear infection.
  • Nausea - It is not unusual for your child to have nausea following anesthesia.  If vomiting persists for more than 24 hours, please call us.  
  • Fever - A low grade fever (up to 102° F) is common for the first 5 days following surgery.
  • Bleeding - With the exception of small specks of blood from the nose or in the saliva, bright red blood should not be seen.  If this does occur, please contact us.  Do not panic, this will only make things worse.  You may begin swishing/gargling with ice water if bleeding starts and this often causes enough vasoconstriction to stop the bleeding.  
  • Bad breath - Do not be concerned if the patient has bad breath.  This is expected.
  • Higher voice - When we remove large tonsils it is normal for you to have a higher voice.  Expect it to be highest immediately after surgery.

ACTIVITY:  The patient may play outdoors but should avoid vigorous activity for two weeks following surgery (i.e. gym, physical education, sports team practice).  No swimming for two weeks.  She/he may return to school as early as seven days after surgery.  Some children, however are not yet ready to resume their school activities until two weeks after surgery.  A humidifier may be helpful in the bedroom during sleep.  No travel out of the state for two weeks.  No travel out of the country for three weeks.

DIET:  It may be several days, or even two weeks, before the patient is able to take solid foods.  They must drink to avoid dehydration.  Items that will be well tolerated include cold soups, popsicles, jello, custards and eggs.  AVOID foods that are salty or spicy and liquids that are acidic.  Carbonated drinks will not irritate if they are allowed to go flat before drinking.

PAIN CONTROL:  Tylenol, ibuprofen, or prescription pain medicine can be given every four hours as needed for pain.  It is advisable to give the pain medication 15 to 30 minutes before eating to “take the edge off the pain”.  This will make your child more willing to drink.  The medication should be given for as long as needed to promote drinking.

If you are troubled about any phase of the recovery process, contact your physician immediately at 205-980-9021.