A patient begins her tonsillectomy recovery

Recovering from a Tonsillectomy

A tonsillectomy involves the removal of the tonsils. Although they are responsible for helping fight off infection, the tonsils themselves sometimes become infected and have to come out. Any surgery can be frightening; just because you get to go home the same day doesn’t mean a tonsillectomy is any less so than any other surgery. Being prepared can help you face the procedure with more confidence. Here’s a look at recovering from a tonsillectomy. 

Preparations Beforehand

The best information that is particular to your case is going to come straight from the team that’s removing your tonsils. As long as you give them the full story, they should know you best. Most teams will provide you with a written set of instructions regarding food, medication, and other details that are going to be pertinent to your recovery. Ask your doctor any questions have regarding these things before you go into surgery. You’re likely to feel a little loopy because of the anesthetic, and it can be difficult to remember detailed instructions. 

Immediately After Surgery

Have someone ready to drive you home. No one should drive following surgery! You’ll need to fill prescriptions for antibiotics (all surgeries come with a risk of infection) and pain relievers. Take all medication according to the doctor’s and pharmacist’s instructions. In many cases, you will have received an injection of similar medications, so any prescriptions may not need to be started until late in the evening or the following morning. Expect to want to go home and sleep for a while. Unfortunately, you should also expect a fair amount of pain, largely centered in the throat. 

Diet and Wellbeing

It can take up to two weeks to feel fully recovered from surgery. Adults tend to take longer to bounce back than children. In the time leading up to a return to full health, get plenty of rest. Avoid alcohol, not only because it should not be mixed with pain medication, but because it can counteract antibiotics. It may also be painful for the throat. 

Go grocery shopping before surgery. Choose foods that are easy to swallow and easy to digest. You’ll also want items that are bland, like apple juice, chicken broth, or popsicles. Ask your doctor if there’s any items you should avoid. Add in items as your body becomes prepared to them and the pain subsides. Drink lots of fluids, but avoid acidic juices, which will burn. Water, of course, is the best option.

Call Your Doctor If…

No matter how healthy you are, it is still possible for something to go awry. Be on the lookout for any of the following, and call your doctor if they occur. 

  • Blood from the nose or in the saliva
  • Fever
  • Dehydration (headaches, dizziness, failure to urinate as frequently, among other signs)
  • Difficulty breathing
Last Updated: May 05, 2016