Tonsillectomy Recovery – Adult | Child Tonsillectomy

Planning and Recovering From Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Let’s start with my own tonsillectomy recovery story. I wasn’t always this healthy. As a kid I ingested more penicillin than a corporate-raised chicken. I was in the doctor’s office several times each year with a sore throat. As the doctor or nurse peered into my mouth, the reaction was always the same: “Whoa, those are some big tonsils!” The diagnosis was usually tonsillitis, or strep throat. As the doctor wrote the prescription, he’d explain that years ago, tonsils like mine would have been removed, but, “these days,” we try to hang onto them. “These days,” were the 1970’s. I guess the tonsillectomy pendulum had swung back from the days when kids got their tonsils out because their brother was getting his out.

Thanks! – Greg

Aunt Kate’s reassurance helped, but I still wrote out some just-in-case instructions for my brother and hid them in my closet. I sheepishly told him where they were, just in case.


“This is temporary. You WILL feel better. Hang in there and stay hydrated!” -Greg Tooke

As an adult I continued to suffer from frequent bouts of tonsillitis. It seemed that I caught every bug that passed through my house or workplace. I guess those big ugly tonsils were a nice home for those nasties. It wasn’t until my 40’s that I also became aware that I suffered from something called, Obstructive Sleep Apnea -a condition in which a person stops breathing while asleep. I snored often and would awake abruptly, gulping in big breaths. I felt tired most days. After raising four babies, I had come to accept fatigue as a normal part of life! One day at a routine physical my doctor remarked about the number of episodes of strep throat and tonsillitis I’d had. We also talked about the sleep problems. While he didn’t formally diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, he suspected that I had it. He recommended a tonsillectomy, because of all the tonsil problems I’d had. As a bonus, I might find relief from the sleep apnea as well.

If not, I’d undergo a sleep study. Forty four years old and father of four boys and a doctor finally said it: Those tonsils are doing you more harm than good! As much as I hated those tonsils, I was terrified at the thought of going under the knife. I started reading about tonsillectomy recovery on the internet and talking to friends. That didn’t help. “My cousin knew a guy who got a tonsillectomy and bled to death.” “At your age, tonsillectomy is dangerous.” When I met with the ear, nose and throat specialist, (an otolaryngologist), he told me that the risks are the same for an adult undergoing tonsillectomy surgery as for a child, but tonsillectomy recovery is longer and more painful. He was right about that!

Deciding to get a Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips

Recovery tips for tonsillectomy patients and families

I scheduled the surgery for the day after Thanksgiving. A traditional day of feasting in the United States. If it was to be my last meal, I planned to make it a good one! As it turned out, I was so nervous and scared that I could hardly eat on that day. I was recently divorced and had shared placement of my four boys. So many people counted on me that I began to question my decision. What if I died on the table? How reckless to leave behind a family, simply to avoid frequent tonsillitis? My aunt, a registered nurse reassured me about how simple the surgery was, and how far anesthesiology had come. I had nothing to worry about. Aunt Kate’s reassurance helped, but I still wrote out some just-in-case instructions for my brother and hid them in my closet. I sheepishly told him where they were, just in case

“My tonsils were like a 400 pound gorilla on my back. I don’t miss them at all. Ever.” -from the forum ________________________________________________________________________________

I took a week off from work, asked my ex wife to take care of the boys that week, and asked my uncle to drive me to and from the hospital. (a requirement with anesthesia) That was about all the tonsillectomy recovery preparation I did. I was about to learn a lot!   Surgery went fine. I awoke in recovery with a serving of Jell-o in front of me. (“Jelly,” to my British friends) The nurse said that I had to finish it before I could check out. I swallowed it with great relish. It was divine! I called my uncle and we were out of there. I felt ok. I told him thanks and not to worry. I’d be fine. I believed this. Aside from a couple visits, I spent the next ten days alone in misery. The pain set in after about 24 hours. Streaming movies and television shows were my friends. Sleeping became my worst enemy. I’d wake up with my mouth dried out and my throat on fire. Oh my God. I was not prepared for this! I ran out of Popsicle’s on day three. I ran out of pain medicine on day five. The pain peaked on day seven. I broke down and cried in front of my brother on day eight- a combination of pain, drug induced depression, and sleep deprivation. Since then, I’ve read thousands of similar accounts on the tonsillectomy forum I created. It didn’t have to be so hard. If I’d known what I do now, I could have done so much to make my tonsillectomy recovery better. I hope to reach as many people as I can to help guide them through the tunnel. It has been my passion and taught me more about compassion and the amazing strength of the human spirit than any other life experience. When you shine a light for others, you also light your own path.

In the pages at follow, I’ll share tonsillectomy recovery tips with you that I learned from my tonsillectomy experience and years of coaching others through tonsillectomy and recovery. More about tonsillectomy…read more


1,245 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery – Adult | Child Tonsillectomy”

  1. This is the best post i have read on here, i am on day 4 and am managing my pain killers quite well, i still have pain when i swollow.
    I sleep upright with a CPAP machine (i have sleep aponea) think this is helping quite a lot.
    Eating is hard as you say everything gets stuck so i wash everything down with water.
    I know i have a long way to go and am waiting for the pain to set in as everyone has warned me but my biggest fear is bleeding i so do not want this to happen.

    Im finding these pages a great help but must say reading them before my op made me so nervous and worried, good luck everyone speak soon 🤭

  2. Hi Everyone!

    I’m 24 years old and 2 weeks post surgery and let me just say… you are in for a ride.

    Like many people on this forum I was FREAKED out when I read all the comments. I must of read hundreds and whilst it prepared me for the surgery and what to expect from the recovery, it did give me unnecessary anxiety going into it.

    There’s a lot of repetition in the forum so I won’t be going day by day in detail but I will try and give some helpful notes.

    1. Most importantly – YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS! Yes, it’s painful as hell and it will make you have teary moments but not at one point did I regret this. It will help your health in the long run and that is way more important than a few days of pain.
    2. I live in Australia so I’m not sure how the pain medication differs in other countries but this is the best advice I got from my doctor. Every time I took an endone (oxy) I would take 2 advil and panamax with it. They would help the oxy to work at it’s best.
    3. Keep yourself occupied in different ways! I took breaks from Netflix because staring at a screen started giving me headaches. I would hang out with my housemates on the couch even though I was in incredible pain and unable to talk. Surrounding yourself with positive people who are gonna distract you from the pain is important.
    4. Oatmeal was the only thing I could eat for a number amount of days. I didn’t read much about people getting food stuck in their throat but this was a massive issue for me! Anything other than oatmeal would just sit at the back of my throat and I would end up having to cough it back up – disgusting I know… which brings me to my next point.
    5. THIS IS THE MOST DISGUSTING SURGERY EVER! The vile smell that comes from your mouth (do anyone that’s around you a favour and don’t talk), the spitting up the rotting bits of scab every morning (days 5-8 for me) and all the mucus that forms in your mouth and back of your throat.
    6. When I was high on oxy I would find some really fun things to do that were a different type of distraction. I planned about 5 different holidays over a couple of days because it really took my mind off the pain and put me in a headspace I was going on a holiday. Seems silly I know, but you’d be surprised how helpful something like this could be.
    7. Take 2 weeks off work! You’ll feel better by day 10 but give yourself an extra few days to relax because coming off the pain killers is terrible. I didn’t read anything about this on the forum so I might be different but I’m having a difficult time coming off the oxy (I’m on day 13 btw). My body hurts and I constantly feel irritated which prevents me from sleeping. Not nice.
    8. I did wake up in the middle of the night to bleeding on night 8. There was quite a lot of blood but my housemate called the hospital and they said unless I’m struggling to breathe I didn’t need to come in. Bleeding did not hurt me one bit! Just ruined my sheets my mum gave me for Christmas 🙁
    9. My final point and I cannot stress this enough – please try and have a positive attitude about this. We are very lucky to be able to get our tonsils removed so remember that! I found having a sense of humour helped me get through this. My housemates would joke around with me, call me smelly (the breath) and make fun of how useless I was. At the same time, they were always there to cook me my daily oatmeal and rub my back when I was feeling beat.

    Extra things that helped me:

    – Ice water was way easier for me to get down. Please drink lot’s of water to prevent bleeding.
    – Ice packs were my hero
    – Not talking from days 3-8, I used pen and paper to communicate
    – Obviously by a humidifier
    – Earplugs for the earaches
    – Having a vegan diet (meat and dairy hurts the throat)
    – Icy poles NOT ice cream
    – Hot baths
    – Start going for walks on about day 7/8 to get your body working again.

    Yes this hurts! There’s different types of pain throughout the 2 weeks but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Completely worth it! My right tonsil was constantly infected for 18 months and I was sick of it. Good riddance!

    Good luck everyone!

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