Post-Operative Care Instructions Following Tonsillectomy
If you are concerned about recovery after tonsillectomy knowing what to expect makes it easier. Most of the questions that patients and their families have after surgery are answered below but if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to call us. Contact information can be found at the end of these are instructions.
After this surgery, children should rest. They may play inside after one or two days and outside after three or four days if they feel up to it. Strenuous physical activity for 3 to 4 days following surgery is discouraged. Children may return to school whenever comfortable; a week is average, but 10 days is fine as well.
The most important factor in helping speed recovery after surgery is staying hydrated. It is very important to make sure your child is drinking after the procedure. Start with soft foods like ice cream and Jell-O for 10 days after surgery and then introduce your child’s other favorite foods as they will tolerate them. Do not try to force your child to eat dry or crunchy foods until they are ready. Often, chewing gum speeds comfortable eating by reducing the spasm after surgery, this can be started any time after surgery if they are old enough to have chewing gum.
Pain and Healing
For the first several days (occasionally up to 10 days) following surgery, pain in the throat is expected. Children’s Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Children’s Motrin (ibuprofen) can be alternated for pain control. If you get a prescription for narcotic pain medicine, it can be used as instructed. Pain is often worse at night and may prompt the need for more pain medication. A single dose of Tylenol or Motrin in the middle of the night the day of the procedure can help significantly to reduce pain the morning after surgery. Ear pain, especially with swallowing is also common; it is not an ear infection but pain from the surgery. White patches in the back of the throat and bad breath are common after the surgery. They are part of healing, and do not indicate an infection.
An ice collar can also be helpful for post-operative sore throat. Make this by placing ice cubes and water in a large Zip-Loc bag and wrapping it in a towel. Gently lay the ice pack on the front of the neck.
A low-grade fever (less than 101 degrees) following surgery may occur and should be treated with Tylenol (acetaminophen). Follow the directions on the bottle. While children have a fever, they should rest. If the fever continues for more than two days, or if a higher fever develops, call your surgeon. Fever can show that you have not drank enough fluids or may have an infection.
Post-operative bleeding is unusual, but it can occur up to two weeks after surgery. Watch for spitting, coughing, or vomiting blood. If you suspect you are bleeding after surgery, call immediately.
If bleeding is minor and your child is old enough, it can be controlled at home. Take a large glass and fill it with ice and then water. Have your child gargle and spit out water until they have gone through all the water in the glass. Repeat this a second time. If by the end of the second glass there is no blood in the water they are spitting, it is okay to watch them at home rather than bring them in for evaluation. If they continue to bleed, please bring them to the emergency room for evaluation.
You should have a postoperative checkup appointment scheduled for about one month after surgery. If you are unsure when your appointment is, please contact us.