Tonsillectomy | Adults

 Tonsillectomy as an Adult- 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


Tonsillectomy – Adult Recovery and Risks

Most studies indicate a two to four percent risk of delayed hemorrhage [severe bleeding]. Where adult tonsillectomies 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 adult

Adult Tonsillectomy

“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.

263 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy | Adults

  1. Hi Aimee
    I had my tonsils taken out last year and also had coblation done on my lingual tonsils at the same time and when I read your post it was like going back a year with the little bursts of sleep and swallowing. Even getting to sleep was scary knowing I would wake up in more pain due to not having fluid during that time. As you can see, everyone has different experiences and recoveries. Get an appointment with your GP who can prescribe stronger (if needed) and keep your medication up so you won’t run out through the recovery process. I had gone to mine on day 3 as the tablets I had received from the hospital were not enough to control the pain since you can only take so many in a day. My GP was great and also prescribed me a numbing throat spray – Benzydamine (didn’t taste nice) but anything that eases is always a help. I think when I hit day 7 I tried the dissolvable Co-Codamol and this seemed to help greatly. It was one of the worst experiences of my life and every day dragged until I hit a corner on about day 12. I lost 1 stone within 2 weeks due to like you say even struggling to swallow your own saliva.
    A glass full of ice and water makes it that bit easier to swallow, so keep this to hand too.
    I wish you a speedy recovery and seek help from your GP if needed as they are very understanding to people in distress from this type of surgery.
    Take care : )

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