What to Expect After Tonsillectomy Surgery

Tonsillectomy recovery

Tonsillectomy Recovery Tip

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.


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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.

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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!

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Deciding to get a Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips

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

I’ve put together a collection of items that I think would be helpful, if not essential, to making tonsillectomy recovery a little more pleasant. Check out the Tonsillectomy General Store.

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June 27, 2016 1:41 am
I’m a 45 year old woman that is totally regretting the decision to have a tonsillectomy. I’m not one to sit on the computer and write on these types of forums, but I have to tell you, I HAVE to. it’s 1:20 a.m. And I’m laying in my overstuffed chair as miserable as can be. Considering the time, I am now starting day 8 and I don’t think I can take this pain much longer. I can’t got to sleep because my scabs are in the process of falling off and I can feel a good hunk of it dangling down my right side into my throat. I’ve been gaging on and off and drinking water but it just doesn’t seem to want to come off. I’m also being very gentle because I don’t want to disturb anything back there that may cause it to bleed; which is my biggest fear. I was getting by (5 out of 10) in terms of pain but on day 7 OMG!!!! I too was one of those people that thought maybe I would be a lucky one, boy was I wrong. I’ve been staying on top of my mess and forcing water down so I won’t dehydrate. I’ve even set my alarm at night every hour to get up to drink water, morning still are horrible. I haven’t been able to eat beyond liquids, but even they taste bad. My tongue has a horrible taste on the sides and anything sweet tastes horrible. I’m down 12 lbs. and I have to admit food doesn’t even appeal to me now like some other people. Before the surgery I was reading everything I could online to get a sense as to what I was getting myself into. After the first hour I was totally freaked out. When I talked to my husband he said that you can’t believe ever you read on the Internet and that people are only going to write about their horror stories. He made me second guess that maybe it’s not THAT bad, well if you’re reading this it is. I’m so tired and the pain is unbelievable. I do have ear pain but as of now it’s not as bad as some. Under my tongue in the back is killing me. It radiates into my jaw. This recovery really is deceiving because days 1-5 you think you’re going to be able to handle this, not in my case. I’m so desperate that I keep looking for someone out there that’s going to say it will be over in a certain amount of days. I know 14 seems to be the big number, but I’ve read many stories where it’s beyond that date. I just can’t do this anymore. I know I sound all over the place, I just can’t take the pain. If 14 is the magic number, I don’t think I can do this for the next 6 days. I have read that when the pain does start to… Read more »
June 27, 2016 3:16 am

Hi, I’m 46 and female and I had mine out on 3rd of June. I’m on day 24 and I have no pain anymore but do get a dry throat. I know it feels like it will never end but I promise it will. The day 14 and onwards is pretty much right for it to start subsiding but the best thing you can do for yourself now is to eat solid foods. It seems lie the worst advice in the world but you’re throat gets worse if you don’t keep it moving. I was told to eat toast or anything quite rough so those scabs would come of instead of hanging around. If you don’t get rid of them it can become infected. I got infected two days after surgery and believe me you don’t want that on top of the pain. Please try and be strong and eat properly, it really does help. I hope you keep us up to date with how you are. Take care, Jane

Caroline B
June 21, 2016 11:17 pm

Hey I’m 24, healthy, and live in a big city. I got my tonsils & adenoids removed Thursday morning & posting Tuesday evening. I was wondering when did people start leaving their houses for a few hours comfortably? I’m typically a very independent & social person, but up until now even watching movies has worn me out. I wouldn’t drive on pain meds. However, knowing there’s a social light at the end of the tunnel would be nice. I just don’t want to push it too much & end up straining the healing. Thanks.

June 23, 2016 10:52 pm

I left my house for the first time on day 10 and felt very dizzy and nauseous and had to go back home and rest. But day 11 and 12 I kept going out for short periods of time and only felt ready to be in social settings at approx day 15. Some of the not being ready also came from me not being able to talk at all until day 9 and then the fear of having bad breath from the scabs. Goodluck it’s almost over!

June 21, 2016 1:23 pm

Hey, does anyone happen to have a photo of a healed partial tonsillectomy? I got a “full” tonsillectomy but noticed that there is lumpy tissue left. Am I being paranoid?im 21 days post recovery and I would hate to have to suffer with tonsil stones again after going through all that pain. Does anyone have this tissue or are you completely smooth? If you have tissue left, has it caused you any problems?

June 21, 2016 3:43 pm

Hi, I don’t have a photo but my daughter had hers out when she was young and they left a bit behind. It’s been infected a couple of times since then and I’m talking she had them out when she was 7 and is 26 now so no major problems with the little bit that’s left. If there are no holes or crypts in the tissue though I’m sure you won’t get stones.