After Tonsillectomy – What’s Next?
So what happens after tonsillectomy? Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect after your tonsillectomy. We’ll cover that first day, or as it’s often referred to- the honeymoon. Then the following ten days, the month, and the years after tonsillectomy.
Day of Tonsillectomy Surgery aka “the Honeymoon”
Depending on what part of the world you live in, you will probably be kept in a recovery area of the hospital for a few hours after surgery. This is to allow the anesthesia to wear off a bit, and let staff keep an eye on you for any bleeding or complications. You’ll probably be given Jello, (Jelly to those in the UK), water, and ice. Take all of it. Ice the throat area religiously for the first 12 hours after tonsillectomy. It will pay off greatly by reducing swelling and inflammation.
Most hospitals require that a family member or friend drive you home and stay with you the day of surgery. This is for your health and safety. With anesthesia still in your system, you will be impaired and not safe to drive. There is also a small risk that significant bleeding could occur and require medical intervention.
The first day is often called the honeymoon by veterans of tonsillectomy because the pain is usually not too bad. With all the stronger pain medicines in your system from surgery, you’ll probably feel less pain the day of surgery than in the days that follow.
The Week After Tonsillectomy
Your home should be set up in advance of your tonsillectomy recovery. You should have at least one humidifier, plenty of frozen treats, a place to sleep in a somewhat upright position like a recliner, some entertainment like television, movies, or a simple hobby. You’ll be a little fuzzy from pain medications so don’t expect to read anything heavy or get work done. If you have small children, you’ll need help with them. Ask in advance for the support. You will need it.
You’ll be sent home with a prescription for pain medicine. Try to stay on top of this. It’s easier than trying to catch up. Taking a little food or liquid food replacement like Ensure before taking the pain medicine can reduce nausea often associated with the medications.
You may also experience significant constipation with these drugs. Ask your doctor of pharmacist for something to help keep things moving.
Days two through ten will probably be a roller coaster of varying degrees of pain. Staying hydrated, taking pain medications on schedule, running a humidifier, and taking it easy can greatly reduce your discomfort. You DO NOT want to get dehydrated. It can be miserable.
Many patients experience significant swelling of the uvula. Ask your doctor about anti-inflammatories. Some advocate their use, but others do not. Icing is a safe and effective way to reduce swelling and inflammation. Just do it.
Scabs after tonsillectomy
Depending on with method your doctor uses, you will probably notice the formation of scabs after your tonsillectomy. They look white in color, or perhaps even greenish. This is normal. Leave them alone. They will work themselves off on their own as you heal.
Many believe, particularly in the UK and Australia, that eating a fairly normal diet throughout tonsillectomy recovery reduces the formation of these scabs and promotes faster healing of the area. Based on accounts from this website, this would seem to be correct. Certainly one should avoid sharp food that could cut the affected area, and also foods high in acidity.
You will have pain. For many, the worst days seem to be about one week after surgery. This may be caused by the scabs that form sloughing off.
It’s quite common for patients to experience some days that aren’t so bad followed by some that are much worse in terms of pain. Keep in mind that this is temporary and will pass.
The Second Week After Surgery
This is when many patients struggle the most. The effects of sleep deprivation, prolonged use of pain medicines, being isolated and cut off from normal routines, and pain can take their toll.
Getting out of the house for a short walk, planning a simple event like a bath, or movie can help take one’s mind off all of this.
As the throat starts getting healed and the pain begins to subside, usually day ten or eleven, you will still notice odd feelings back there. It may feel like there isn’t a tight seal. Many complain of liquids going into the nose as they swallow. The tissues will remain soft for a while, but eventually this will subside.
Life Without Tonsils – The months and years after tonsillectomy
Most people are ready to go back to work ten to fourteen days after surgery. Everyone is unique in their recovery. You will know what is best for you in terms of returning to your normal activities. Be a strong advocate for yourself.
It really takes several months for the tissues around the tonsil beds to fully heal and get back to normal. Yawning and sneezing can be painful or uncomfortable for weeks after surgery. Swallowing may also feel odd during this time. Sense of taste can be affected for months after tonsillectomy. All of this usually returns to normally within the first three to six months.
Your Health After Tonsillectomy
Most tonsillectomy patients report a much better quality of life after their surgery. Fewer viruses, better sleep due to reduced snoring, elimination of tonsil stones and bad breath are all benefits reported by recovered tonsillectomy patients.
Please feel free to add your own comments about tonsillectomy recovery in the comments section below.
Share on social media or with friends considering or recovering from tonsillectomy.