Tonsillectomy in Adults

 Tonsillectomy in Adults- What to Expect

Tonsillectomy as an adult is quite different than tonsillectomy for children. The methods employed for tonsillectomy in adults and children are generally the same, (See Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy Methods page), and the risks for adults are similar to the risks for children, (See The Tonsillectomy Risks


 Adult Tonsillectomy Recovery and Risks

Most studies indicate a two to four percent risk of delayed hemorrhage [severe bleeding]. Where tonsillectomy in adults differs most from tonsillectomy in children is in the recovery. Recovery from childhood tonsillectomy generally takes five to seven days. Recovery from  tonsillectomy in adults usually requires at least ten days and more often two weeks.

Before deciding to get an adult tonsillectomy, it’s important to choose a time frame in which you have the time and the support. Recovering over your favorite Holiday might be a good choice in terms of time, (eg holiday leave from work or school), but it may not be a time that people will be available to help you.
The pain associated with adult tonsillectomy recovery, by almost all accounts, is more intense than that experienced by children. Some theorize that children haven’t had as much time without pain as adults and thus their frame of reference is different than adult tonsillectomy patients. Others assume that children may be less able to articulate their discomfort. Having read the accounts of THOUSANDS of adult tonsillectomies in the forum,(See Tonsillectomy Forum page), I can say with some confidence that generally, the younger the patient, the easier the tonsillectomy recovery. There are of course exceptions. I’ve read from many middle aged adults who had a fairly smooth recovery. Perhaps they read up on this website and prepared well. Perhaps they had good genes.  In any case, many time an adult tonsillectomy recovery is better than the horror stories we hear about.

Tonsillectomy in Adults

Tonsillectomy in Adults

“If I could recommend one item to buy before tonsillectomy, it would be a humidifier. My readers know how important moist air is to a healing throat. I bought one of these years ago and still use it daily” -Greg

I’d like to take a moment here to make a suggestion. As you read through the people’s accounts in the various chat rooms, message boards, and adult tonsillectomy forums, consider this: People having a harder time, may be more prone to seek out information and share their experience in these venues. Adults experiencing milder tonsillectomy recoveries, might be less apt to be posting. I don’t want to drag Richard Nixon into my website, but this silent majority may be quietly recovering and you’ll never hear from them.
My advice is to research as much as you can, talk with your doctor, talk with your family and friends, and talk with your employer before scheduling your adult tonsillectomy. I wish you all the best.

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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October 17, 2016 6:57 pm

I read a lot of horror stories before my tonsillectomy but mine wasn’t bad at all! I am 23 and on day 7 and decided to have them out after getting 1-2 infections a month for 5 months (one actually putting me in hospital), and the damage caused meaning I was in pain whether they were infected or not.

After the operation I ate and was able to take tablet medication actually with more ease than before the operation because the obstruction that was my tonsils was no longer there. After going home I have kept my usual diet, just cutting out acidic and spicy things, and taking usual headache dose painkillers. Initially I couldn’t really talk, and had pain in my jaw, tongue, ears and throat but managable and what you expect when you’ve had a tube down there and people pulling your mouth around to operate in there. I found the more you use it, the quicker that goes away.

Day 2 I tried to eat an ice popsicle as many recommended they would make me feel better but actually I found the cold made my ear pain worse and all my stomach wanted was some of my favourite crisps so I tried them and I actually found them more soothing. By day 3 I just had the ear and throat pain which got a little worse day 5-7 but still managable and is due to the scabs coming off. Yet equally with that extra pain I have gotten my voice fully back and I am able to eat at a more normal speed whereas before although I was eating normally, was rather slow.

I’ve never once thought that I wish I hadn’t had it done, I’ve actually felt better than I felt when I’ve had tonsillitis over recent months. Not an operation to do if they aren’t bothering you but it was definitely the right decision for me. Main thing I would say is don’t be afraid to try eating certain foods if that is what you want. Swallowing is going to hurt after a tonsillectomy and if you’re making yourself eat food you don’t really like because you think your throat might take it easier, you won’t do it. You’ll get yourself through the pain easier if its your favourite food, and I haven’t really found much of a pain difference between eating scrambled eggs and eating a pizza, just chew it thoroughly.

October 12, 2016 8:20 pm

First off talk to your doctor so see if he thinks it’s a must to do a tonsillectomy. Because if it’s not don’t do it. Not trying to scare you. I’m on day 7 of recovery. I got surgery on Friday morning and I never have been on anesthesia so was a little nervous. More happy that I was getting my tonsils out. They think I have sleep apnea I snore bad and have had strep throat 30 times in my life so my tonsils were huge a needed to go. Right after the surgery and on day 2 was great I was eating tacos and didn’t have close to any pain. Once the morning of day 3 hit I was hurting already. About mid-day I stopped drinking water and eating because I couldn’t even force it down. Day 4 came and the pain was so unbearable I called my doctor and he told me to go to the ER and get liquids. Felt great again. Came home drank water was fine until the next morning. Day 6 and 7 are pretty rough water is going down and pudding but I’m forcing. Doctor called and told me day 8 n 9 are bad but should be on track for a full recovery. Not trying to scare you. I needed my tonsils out so obviously if I went back through time I’d do it again but with a different approach. I thought it was going to be easy and no problem I’m not a little girl. Mind you I was crying like on morning 7th day. Things to expect.
Expect the worst pain ever.
Make sure you keep fluids in your body. Gatorade or water. Eat lots of popsicles and pudding.
Honestly buy a humidifier.
I took intense hot showers for like an hour at a time. Helped pain.
Chew gum to keep your mouth moving.
If you get canker soars like me makes life more hell.
More water and brush your teeth nice and easy 4 times a day. I got the back of my tongue gently to help me swallow. Don’t forget lots of fluids you can do it.

Jade Houghton
September 29, 2016 12:12 pm

Hi guys
I’m 24 and on day 3 after adult tonsillectomy, I work in a hospital and to say I was s****ing it is an understatement! I’d never been put to sleep under anaesthetic before or had a operation as such!! Few months back I began to suffer with my tonsils got tonsillitis and ended up being admitted to hospital for 10 days with quinsy this was by far the worst experience of my life. My throats closed causing breathing difficulties I had huge abcess it burst causing more problems the pain the fever was unbearable, so when they said I needed my tonsils out I was more than happy to have the procedure a few days ago but reading the forums I got worried and anxious I’d stocked up and more than prepared myself for more horrific times. Firstly I was worried about being put to sleep but that soon went away after the anaesthetic nurse told me “I will wake up because she would have too much paperwork to fill in if I didn’t ” then that was it I woke up at 5pm to be told I had been in theatre a lot longer than usual nearly 2 hours due to scaring from the quinsy and scared tissue it was tougher to get them out and took a lot longer than expected but I was none the wiser! They told me I might experience more pain because of this but I’m happy to tell you my pains been about 3 no more since having them out they made me eat a sandwich an hour after having them out I’ve slept 10 hours and even napped in afternoon Ive kept sipping ice cold water, eating solids as well as crisps and ice cream which they advised me to it all tastes funny as my mouth tastes funny but you must keep eating to help heal, I’m expecting more pain on days 5 onwards but if i had to do it again to get those nasty tonsils out I would! I manage my pain on paracetamol and ibuprofen they’ve prescribed me morphine but I haven’t needed it as of yet and Just think 2 weeks to heal and no more tonsilitus etc it’ll be more than worth it! Don’t let others put you off everyone is different I’m glad I’ve gone through with it, good luck! (Don’t look at your throats afterwards)