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Recovering from a Tonsillectomy: What to Expect

Recovering from a Tonsillectomy: What to Expect

Every year in the United States, about half a million kids and teens have their tonsils removed, making tonsillectomy one of the most commonly performed surgeries, especially among children. Still, even though tonsil removal is common, plenty of kids (and adults, too) don’t know what to expect once their tonsils are out. 

As with any surgery, not knowing can lead to a lot of anxiety and nervousness about recovery and the surgery itself. The team at ENT Specialists is dedicated to helping patients and their families feel relaxed and confident about their tonsillectomies, and that means educating each patient about what to expect. 

In this post, the team reviews some of the basics about tonsillectomy recovery to help patients feel more at ease.

Tonsillectomy basics

Tonsils are tiny glands located at the back of the throat. These glands act as filters to help prevent germs from entering the body. 

Sometimes, though, those germs cause the tonsils or throat to become infected. Tonsillectomy is often recommended for kids who have frequent tonsil infections (tonsillitis) or frequent strep throat infections. Other common reasons our team might recommend tonsillectomy include:

There are several options for removing tonsils, and our team determines the best approach based on your child’s specific needs. Tonsillectomy is performed under general anesthesia to allow your child to sleep through the entire procedure.

In some instances, we may recommend having the adenoids removed at the same time. Adenoids are tiny glands like the tonsils, but they’re located at the bottom of the sinuses.

Recovering from tonsillectomy

It’s very common to have a sore throat after a tonsillectomy, along with some discomfort in the neck, jaw area, or even the ears. We prescribe some pain medication to take during the early stages of healing to relieve discomfort. We also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection as the area heals.

Eating and drinking

It’s a good idea to stick to cold liquids for the first couple of days while discomfort and swelling subside, then slowly incorporate soft foods to avoid irritating the surgical site. Many patients don’t feel like returning to solid foods for a week or so after their surgery.

It’s also really important to drink plenty of fluids. Drinking helps support your body during healing, and cold liquids can help reduce swelling.

After surgery, scabs will form at the surgery site, typically sloughing off about a week after surgery. When that happens, it’s not unusual to have a very tiny amount of bleeding. Most kids feel “back to normal” and return to school within a couple of weeks.

Bottom line: Follow instructions

As we do with any surgery, our team will provide a complete list of recovery instructions after the procedure. It’s important to follow those instructions and to call the office if you have any questions or if your child develops a fever or other sign of infection.

Learn more about tonsillectomy

Although most tonsillectomies are performed on kids and teens, some adults have their tonsils removed, too. Our team is experienced in tonsillectomy for patients of all ages. 

To find out more about tonsillectomy surgery at our practices in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper, Tooele, and West Jordan, Utah, call ENT Specialists or book an appointment online today.

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