Guerrilla Tactics for Surviving Adult Tonsillectomy

Guerrilla Tactics – Adult Tonsillectomy Tips

Adult Tonsillectomy Tips

Adult Tonsillectomy Tips

So you’ve read my top 10 tonsillectomy tips.  Good. Those will get you through. But some of us like to operate outside of the conventional. The top ten are solid pearls of wisdom that anyone can benefit from, regardless of their personality. Let’s face it- not everyone is comfortable making demands on their doctor, pharmacist, employer, or family. For those of you who are though, I offer the following guerrilla tactic adult tonsillectomy tips.

Advocating for Yourself

The cornerstone of these tips is self advocacy. By researching the internet and finding this site, you’re already ahead of the masses. Like me a few years ago, most adults go into tonsillectomy surgery like sheep. They take the information from their doctor and perhaps nurse and press forward without questioning. Sometimes this works out fine. Some ENT doc’s and their staff do a great job of preparing their patients for tonsillectomy surgery and its subsequent recovery period. Some don’t.  Some employers respect their employee’s judgement of what their needs are in regard to recovering from adult tonsillectomy. Some don’t. It’s up to us to make sure that we get what we need. Take those first 10 tips and you’ll be ahead of the pack. Take a few of these and lead it.

Work- Taking Time Off

I’ve researched the time required for adult tonsillectomy recovery. I can tell you that ten days is about the minimum. I would tell your boss that two weeks is the minimum. You may need two full weeks. You may not though. If not, you’ll look tough as nails as you come back to work ahead of schedule! If the boss gives you grief about two full weeks, refer him or her to this website. Let them read about the experiences people have. It will open their eyes the way it has yours.

Your Family- Asking for Help

This is a tough one. Most people struggle when it comes to asking for help. Get over it. You are going to be worthless for at least a week. Don’t spread yourself thin. You don’t want anyone counting on you. Have a heart to heart talk with your spouse, mother, brother- whoever might pick up the slack for you. You might be surprised. I was recently divorced with four children when I had my surgery. My ex wife and I were not on good terms. It was a jagged pill to swallow, but I asked for her help. She covered the kids for a full week and even took a nice video of a holiday concert I had to miss. Be direct. Be specific. Ask for help.

Your Doctor- Be Assertive

Here are few adult tonsillectomy tips that you won’t find in the literature in your doctor’s waiting room. They just might make your life a lot better though.


  • Ask for a steroid.  I’m not giving medical advice here.  I’m not a doctor.  When you talk to your doctor, ask for a steroid.  The first challenge most adults face after tonsillectomy is a hugely swollen uvula.  No kidding- that thing can swell up so much that it’s hard to swallow and breath. Icing can help, so can gargling with ice cold water, but a steroid will do even more.  Just ask.
  • Ask for a stool softener.  Narcotic pain medicines will constipate you.  Many people go for over a week without a bowel movement.
  • Ask for an anti nausea drug.  Those pain killers that help so much can really do a number on your system.  You won’t be eating much, so nausea is a pretty likely side effect.
  • Get an order for ENOUGH PAIN MEDICINE TO LAST THROUGH RECOVERY.  This one makes me furious.  My doctor wrote an order for enough hydrocodone to last about four days.  If you’ve read enough accounts, you know that that’s about the time the pain gets worst.  I ran out in the middle of the night.  I had to wait until morning to ask for a refill.  The staff acted like I was some drug seeking junkie.  Don’t accept this.  I finally walked into the ER.  The doctor there understood completely and thought my ENT was a jerk. He wrote a prescription to cover the next week. I did not become a drug addict.
  • Ask for your pain medicine prescription to NOT include Acetaminophen. This is a tricky one. Most narcotic pain med’s contain Acetaminophen.  That’s fine if it’s the only thing you’re taking.  But at some point, you’ll want to ween off the heavy pain killers in favor of an over the counter pain medicine like Tylenol. (Acetaminophen) Suppose you try this and BAM- not cutting it.  You’ll want to go back to the narcotic pain medicine. But wait, how much Acetaminophen do you have on board? Too much can be very dangerous.  Keeping the two separate allows you to monitor this more easily.
  • Ask for IV fluids.  Yes, why not?  A nurse on the forum suggested this and I thought it was brilliant.  So many people become dehydrated while recovering from adult tonsillectomy because swallowing is so difficult.  Knowing that she was seriously dehydrated, this brave and smart woman walked into an emergency room and asked for a bag of IV fluid.  She got it and was no longer dehydrated. You might have a conversation with your doctor about this in advance.
  • TETRACAINE MEDICATED LOLLIPOPS -I never got them but people rave about the relief they give.  Ask your Doctor.

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Well there you have it- the insider’s guide to adult tonsillectomy recovery.  You may feel like a pain asking for these things.  You may feel less pain because you do.  I wish you well.

Do you have a Jedi mind trick or ninja tactic for getting the upper hand in tonsillectomy recovery?  Please share in the comment section.  Thanks, -Greg

74 thoughts on “Guerrilla Tactics for Surviving Adult Tonsillectomy”

  1. Request an antinausea drug just in case and take a stool softener while on narcotic to help relieve constipation
    Also make your own applesauce and avoid any products with citric acid since it will burn your throat
    Mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs good soft foods

  2. Still recovering from tonsillectomy surgery and highly recommend staying hydrated. Am on day 10 todsy.Room temp liquids might feel better than cold ones initially. Although ice chips seem to help right after surgery. Recommend asking your ent for a narcotic to help with pain initially since pain is excruciating. I was determined to get off narcotic as quickly as I could to not be so sleepy however nice to have if you need it. Recommend tylenol extra strength in liquid form and getting a rx prior to surgery for 3 tetra lollipops which are very helpful to numb throat. Not covered by insurance but so worth getting. Also for ear pain get clear pop from Amazon. My ear pain resolved 20 minutes after sucking on that lollipop. Get a few packages. So worth it. Very difficult to swallow or talk most of the time so resting voice important. Recommend popsicles, clear broth for entire 1st day postop then medicate yourself half hour to 45 min before meals to enable eating. Loving the tablespoon life with portions. Orgain protein powder with some nondairy yogurt pretty good. Avoid dairy initially due to mucous buildup. Recommend brushing teeth several times per day gently and flossing too. Grateful for surgery but it is an ordeal postop.

  3. Thanks for the info gathering! My surgery is in 2 days and I’ve prepped as much as I can. Two tips that I came across and plan to implement are drinking aloe vera and taking a teaspoon of coconut oil a day. Both promote healing and seem to keep the scabs moist where they tend to reabsorb/disintegrate without pain rather than dry out and painfully pop off. I have some plain aloe vera juice as well as some coconut water + aloe vera (no sugar added) from Trader Joe’s ready to go. I have my humidifier ready, but in our open floor plan downstairs where I have my setup I’m a little nervous it won’t help as much as it would if I were in a small, closed bedroom. I also checked with my local pharmacy today and they do not have liquid hydrocodone in stock. I don’t know what the doctor plans to prescribe for pain, but now that hydrocodone is a schedule 2 there is a major shortage. I’m nervous!

  4. What really helps me is gargling a warm cup of salt water. It’s disinfects the wounds, washes out some of the scabs and is an instant pain relief! Highly recommended and good luck to everyone recovering! 🙂

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