Tonsillectomy Recovery – Adult | Child Tonsillectomy

Planning and Recovering From Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

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.

Thanks! – Greg

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.


“This is temporary. You WILL feel better. Hang in there and stay hydrated!” -Greg Tooke

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!

Deciding to get a Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips

Recovery 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


1,264 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery – Adult | Child Tonsillectomy”

  1. I wanted to write this to give advice to those undergoing a tonsillectomy. For me I was getting tonsillitis every two weeks and as a college freshman I could not take it anymore. This had went on for two years prior and costed me more hospital bills than you could imagine. I got mine out on 12/20 and felt completely healed today 1/4. However, I did have complications. Not even 24 hrs after the surgery my entire right side was filling with blood. After gargling ice water and drinking as much as possible, it would not stop. I went to theER and my surgeon met me there looked at me and decided I needed to be recauterized. Yes this meant more anesthesia and another visit to the surgical room. All I can say is I’m glad he did this second surgery. My right side was trouble from the start and I wasn’t surprised of course that would happen to me. I pushed myself to eat ice pops and apple sauce even some smoothies. This is very important. Don’t baby yourself. Yes it might hurt like a mf but don’t give up and sit in pain. Take those pain meds every 6 hrs when needed and don’t get off track. Ice packs on your side jaw is the best for ear pain when/if it does come. My tongue was the worst painful part. I started eating on Christmas Day with some stuffing and sweet potatoes. Other days I had tons of cream of wheat and mashed potatoes. Eat eat eat. I lost 16lbs during this recovery and it felt so weird. Don’t give up and remember the pain is temporary and hopefully won’t last more than 15 days. Eating helps taking the scabs off naturally and i never bled when my scabs came off. Definitely dont eat chips and crisp stuff like that but anything else after day 5 is a go. Doctors in the UK believe eating right away is okay and that’s what they reccomend and I can see why. My friend got hers out on the 13th of December (7days before me) and is still in horrible pain and barely eating. Please take care of yourselves and eat eat eat!!!! Lots of ice water. More than the normal recommendations of water intake. Ice in every cup of water and keep drinking. Good luck to everyone! I’m very glad I did this and got over the pain because I feel so much better.

    1. Hello Robyn,

      Could you please tell what was your main problem/symptom to remove tonsils and does it cure?. I am suffering from bad breath and planning tonsillectomy.

      Thank you very much in advance!

  2. This site helped me so much, so I figured I would give some insight as well!

    I’m a 25 year old male; I had my surgery on 12/19/17, it’s now NYE (12/31/17), so day 12. I want to start with this as to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for any who need it: I feel way better — throat is a bit sore, however my uvula is almost down to normal size and I have just a light layer of the yellowish stuff that covered my wounds before. Today, I had French toast for breakfast, soup and rice from my favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch, and am planning on having lasagna and meatballs for dinner (staying in from NYE festivities to give myself a little more rest — you need to gradually get back into your old routine).

    My turning point was two days ago, Day 10. I slept almost through the night and took ibuprofen in the morning for relief from the pain I got from dryness. Have not taken any pain meds since.

    Be warned: days 1-3 are going to feel like no big deal. You might notice snoring, due to your swollen uvula, but otherwise I thought those two days were easy. Days 4-9 are when things got much, much worse. I woke many times throughout the night with excruciating pain in my ears and throat. I would say day 7 was the absolute worst of all of the days. I’m saying this to help you prepare; do not think that it’ll get better immediately, day by day: prepare yourself to be in agony for a little while, and make sure you have someone to get you water and food.

    I survived by eating: pudding, jello, ice cream, protein shakes (Kellogg’s cappuccino flavored if you miss your coffee), puréed mashed potatoes with butter, and puréed squash with chicken broth. Day 9 I had eggs with soft bread dipped in broth.

    My biggest piece of advice: DRINK WATER DRINK WATER DRINK WATER! Your saving grace from EVERYTHING (bleeding especially) is keeping yourself hydrated. I did not suffer a bleed once, and I think I totally owe that to staying hydrated. You will heal so much quicker by keeping your body hydrated.

    Again, I’m sitting here on day 12 having just finished recess cup (chewed up very carefully), something I felt would be SO FAR AWAY on Day 7. Keep your chin up, and drink your water!

    1. I am glad there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m on day 3 and I feel like I’m dying now lol. Cannot wait to eat peanut butter cup.

  3. So, like all of you I… probably somewhat compulsively, read these stories trying to get a sense of what my tonsillectomy experience might be like. And like a moth drawn to a flame kept going back to the most horrible graphic ones… praying that story would not be mine but mentally preparing as if it would be. So, if you’re like me and it’s 1am and you’re still reading these posts wondering what your experience next week will look like, let me offer you mine.

    First a statement about apples… If you’re having a tonsilectomy done don’t even read the stories from the people who had that plus a rhinoplasty plus a boob job plus hair plugs all done at the same time. Those people are miserable because you can not run someone over and then back up and do it again and expect that they won’t be way worse then just single procedure patients.

    On to my story…

    I grew up as a kid in the 80s with multiple yearly bouts of strep. Of course the pendulum had swung from take those tonsils out to antibiotics work every time so for years I was on a first name basis with all the good ones. It’s funny when a teenager can discuss antibiotics with the doc as a peer rather then a patient. I suspect many of you were the same.

    Then in my 20s came tonsil stones. Those wonderful smelly disgusting pains in the neck. Literally.

    The only real health issue I have is psoriasis and had it so bad that it was causing multiple ear inflections. So I found a top flight ENT here in SoCal who worked with me and during the course of the first exam said “we can fix the ears but the real question is will you let me take out your tonsils”. He said I had the tonsils of an 8 year old trapped in a 30 year olds body. Lol. I ruined the poor guys day every time I said no.

    So fast forward a decade and I’ve been dutifully picking stones out of my tonsils on a regular basis and then I get sick. I mean 3 weeks of awful. And my tonsils swell up the size of golf balls. I kid you not. I sat there for 3 days during the worst of it thinking ok… you can do this… count to 3… swallow. It was excruciating.

    And at that moment I resolved to never go through that again. The tonsils need to go.

    So I called my ENT. End of year is coming, time for us to both have a Christmas present.

    They didn’t call back. Weeks. Left messages. Talked to nurses. No movement. What the heck?

    So… time to find a new ENT. As you know by now it’s not just an ENT you need, it’s an ENT who is also a neck surgeon. They’re harder to find. And of course I wanted one with stellar reviews associated with a good hospital. I found 2. One took my insurance. So I made an appt. They saw me 3 days later.

    I fill out the paperwork and under the “why are you here” column I put “take my tonsils out.

    Doc walks in. Very nice, gentle man. Soft spoken. Takes a look at my tonsils, my paperwork and says “you’re not going to like me… I won’t take them out. But I’ll be happy to treat you and if they continue to bother you then we will take them out.” I won’t lie. I almost decked him.

    We go 9 rounds. All very civil mind you. And he finally says “you can’t just walk into a surgeon’s office and ask for surgery”. I said sure you can… it’s called a boob job.

    I think that broke the ice a bit but I am convinced he either thought I was crazy, reckless or suffering from Munchausen’s. So he says if your other ENT wanted them out so bad go back to him.

    So I’m lit. I pull put my phone as I walk back to the car and unload on the other ENT. Which proves what I always say… there is at least one fact in play you don’t know about. In this case my old ENT has suddenly and without warning announced his retirement. Still don’t know why. But he offered to write a letter to the new ENT recommending a tonsillectomy.

    So I walk back into the ENTs office and say will a letter from my old ENT push you over the edge? He waffles. So I play my Trump card… look, I’m not a normal patient I’m a paramedic. I know what i am asking for and know this will be tough.

    Fast forward 2 weeks and he finally agrees to do surgery. I mention this all because I have found that there seems to be a shift toward surgery as a last option rearing it’s head again. If you have been fighting your tonsils for years don’t take no for an answer.

    So the day before surgery and I have all my meds filled, my bed all made up. The wife and parents have all taken the day off to help me and our 5 little kiddos. Hugs, Kisses and Prayers. Out the door I go.

    I had my surgery done at an out patient surgery center. I had mixed feelings about this. Chances are they will be more competent because this is all they do all day long but on the flip side if something goes wrong I’m not in a hospital.

    As a medic I have seen the good and the bad. First appearance this place was on the good side but the boxes and exposed cords in the lobby were off putting. But everyone was incredibly friendly. The attitude was more like taking a trip then a surgery… ok let’s get this show in the road. Everyone was smiling and joking. Very light atmosphere. I needed that.

    At every turn it was how can we make this easier for you. Heated blankets. Constant by name personal service. I was impressed. Once we got back into the center itself it was spotless and top flight. There was only one fly in the ointment which I will get to later. But we finally head back into the operating room. A quick poke.. wait can I change my mind? And the next thing I wake up in pain.

    So when I met with the anesthesiologist before the surgery… right before. I said let’s talk post op pain control. I am 6’3″ 250lb. Don’t give me the same 200 mcgs of Fentyal that you give a 140 lb women and walk away. I need you to be aggressive. She promised. I said more over I have a 90 min drive back home so you need to come up with something that bridges that gap. Again she promised.

    Well I woke up 8/10 pain and the freaking anesthesiologist wouldn’t budge off the 200mcgs. No dilauded. No MS04. Nada. Even my post op nurse (who was a God send) went after her multiple times. And seriously, if it weren’t for that nurse and her kindness I would have clawed my throat out. She was right there next to me non stop for 90 mins. Finally she got so fed up she went and found some oral analgesic I could choke down (after about 30 mins of fighting with anesthesiologist).

    Cont’d in other post

    1. Cont’d from above

      She (the post op nurse) made me toast, slushy water. Warm blankets. What did I need? Even if it was just to hold my hand. Fresh ice compresses for my neck. Every time she left to go get something she had a another nurse come stand near me. I mean she was an angel. I watched the other nurses off chatting in a corner, they were not doing this for their patients.

      So discharge time… about 3 hours after I check in. My surgeon comes to see me. All went well. Take your meds. You’re going to hurt tomorrow. Hang in there.

      I’ll be honest. By the time I made it home I felt decent. 10mg of oral Percocet had kicked in (God bless the nurse). I took a shower. Ate an egg sandwich and was talking. No joke.

      Took a nap. Went back to my oral dose of 5mg Percocet (by they way… demand Percocet… do not settle for the codeine or worse the Norco b.s.) and the pain came back pretty steady.

      Ok… since I have a medical background I am going to tell you what I did. This is NOT medical advice and I am telling you not to do this. But my Percocet dosage was 5/325 q 4 hours. I looked up the max dose and bumped myself to 1 q 2. That brought my pain down to 6/10. And I went to bed.

      For the love of all that’s holy… set an alarm and take your meds. Get a frozen bottle of water and it will be slushy in 4 hours.

      The night was painful but uneventful. The next morning had a couple of bowls of soup. I found the bread caused some minor bleeding.

      Brushed my teeth and settled in with a good book.

      By 9 am I knew I needed more pain control and was maxing the Percocet so I called my doc. Again, conservative but a nice guy. He recommended Toradol and we compromised on the Percocet 1 q 3.

      Toradol worked wonders. Pain down to 4/10 and by dinner I was eating 4 chicken kabobs and 2 cheeseburgers. No joke. I may have over done it though as I had some bleeding.

      Night time was fits and starts. I will tell you 2 benefits off the bat… my mind is so much clearer then it has been in years and for the first time I can breathe through my nose all night long. In fact I don’t think I have blown my nose once in 3 days!!!

      I woke up to spitting up a bunch of green flem from my throat and decided to take the antibiotic the doc gave me.

      I’ve noticed since starting the Toradol that my scabs in the throat have been more fragile and subject to slight bleeding but the pain control is worth it. Probably the most annoying thing at this point is that double clamp they used has deformed my tounge to the point that it looks like the upper part of a squid. No joke. Feels funny too.

      Let me offer some additional comments… in addition to the drugs, I got some Chinese healing herbs which I take morning and night. 6mgs of Vit C daily. 8 doses of probiotic and iced st. johns wort tea with honey. As well as spoonfuls of coconut oil that I’ve let melt in my mouth and coat my tonsils. Oh and xylitol gum and liberal sprays of colloidal silver onto the scabs multiple times per day.

      Also coconut water and aloe juice. NO SUGAR. At all

      Does my throat hurt? Yeah. Not bad as long as I keep on my regimens.

      Do I feel better? Heck yes.

      Would I do this again knowing what I know now? 100% yes.

      My wife has been a God send. My parents have been incredible. (As a 38 year old it’s hard to be babied again but I’m grateful)

      All told it has not been without it’s challenges but it has not been the horror story that so many have posted on the internet. It still day 3 but wanted to share this encouragement.

      I get bursts of energy followed by droopy eyelids. I can talk but pay for it. I spend 90% of my day in bed and have a decent amount of gas. Coughing burping and sneezing are evil right now but it’s all manageable and not near as bad as I feared.

      Day 3 saw me coughing up some blood and really tired and cold but nothing that was a deal breaker. And I just finished a burrito. No joke.

      So if you’re like me and reading this at 1 am don’t let the bad stories scare you off. I was eating cheeseburgers 30 hours after my surgery. You can’t beat that.

      2 other thoughts… 1) you do not have to sit there an suffer. Demand pain control. 2) I have praying throughout this and God has been so kind in giving me peace and answering my prayers in the long nights. If you try to lone wolf your life, God help you, it won’t work. We were designed for Him, not us.

      It’s not a walk in the park but like so many other things it doesn’t have to be a disaster. If you need them out get them out. Just be smart about it.

      Merry Christmas from a bed somewhere in SoCal.

      1. So… day 4 & 5 I started feeling really good. Like get out of bed and do stuff good. So on day 6, i got up and tried to go about life. BIG MISTAKE.

        I lasted about 90 minutes and then it was like a tree felled by an axe and down I went. So much for Christmas. Lol

        Day 7 was recovery from day 6 and I could not get out of bed. Paradoxically, at least to my way of thinking the pain is getting worse? Still able to eat normally (today was a left over Christmas dinner) but especially in the morning all I want to do is crawl back under the covers. I really thought I was tougher then this.

        Day 8 and 9 were the same. Lots of early morning pain that was exhausting despite Percocet and Toradol. The slushy water upon awakening was helpful. And the Big D made and appearance so bad I wasn’t sure which end it was going to finally erupt from. Sorry if that’s too much… wish i would have known.

        By 10 you start to lose some of the sympathy of the people around you. And they cut you off from pain killers. Which wasn’t as bad as I thought. I got a massage and that was wonderful but laying face down was very difficult.

        I switched over to straight Advil at this point and noticed that my scabs are not coming off per se but more “wearing away if that makes sense.

        Day 12 was the first time I sat down and tried to do some office work. It went ok. I’m still surprised at how much fatigue I feel from normal activity. For the first time the overall pain without any meds is at 2, popping up to a 6 when I swallow. I look like someone having a mini seizure when I try to eat. Ahh, it’s the little things you have to laugh at. This was also the day that I discovered I no longer have the ability to stifle a sneeze. Holy smokes, it comes out of the nose full force. Have Kleenex.

        Today is day 13 and 2 week appt is tommarow. We are getting ready to move in about a week so I had to clean out the garage. I was stunned how weak I still am. Boxes that I could usually lift without issue took 2 of us and I was having to stop frequently for rest breaks. 2 week recovery? Nope. You need longer.

        Again, not the horror story I feared. This is manageable. But it is a much longer journey then I hoped.

  4. 22 year old female.

    I read this site before my tonsillectomy & septoasty and I’m glad I did because it helped me mentally prepare for the pain whereas my ENT doctor didn’t really let on how bad the recovery would be.

    I had my surgery on 12/8/17 and it’s not 12/17. Today is the first day I have felt the pain ease up after a pretty awful night of waking up every 2 hours to change my ice bags on my throat. I have been using a humidifier my entire recovery but I don’t really notice it moistening my throat.

    The first few days wasn’t awful pain BUT I was very nauseous so I didn’t get much food down and I think getting food down at the point in the recovery is very important before the pain sets in. Unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen for me. Even things like jello and popsicles I couldn’t get down.The pain definitely got gradually worse. I wasn’t drinking nearly as much water as people say you should but I could not get past how painful swallowing was.

    I think it was the night of day 5 when I had my first major bleed. It happened right after taking my pain medicine and suddenly blood was pouring out of my mouth into the sink. By the time we got a call back from a doctor, about 20 mins later, the bleeding had subsided and I was told it was okay to stay at home.

    On day 7 I got my stents in my nose removed. Throughout the day I had big bleeds three separate times. The last time was the worst, ended up vomiting blood as well, and was the only time I came close to passing out. At this point I decided to go to the ER and stay the night in the hospital. The bleeding has stopped by the time I got to the ER but the ENT doctor there believed the bleeding was coming from behind my nose, where my adenoids came out I guess, rather than in the back of my throat like I had thought. I had happy to receive fluids from an IV since I basically wasn’t drinking or eating anything at this point. I was also relieved that the ENT doctor didn’t have to cauterize anything again because I don’t have the extra time to extend my recovery period.

    It’s now 2 nights after my hospital stay and I haven’t had any major bleeding yet. I’ve also stopped taking my prescription pain medication because I hated the nausea that came with it and I was really worried about bleeding after taking it. I took some Tylenol the day after the hospital but today I haven’t taken any pain medication. My throat looks slightly better as some of the scabbing seems to be going away. Swallowing and yawning are still painful acts. My mother is an RN and brought me an oral numbing gel. After taking the gel there is a brief few minutes of pain relief where I can take any pills that I need, drink a little, and eat a little jello. So today is the first day I’ve had more than one or 2 sips of water a day in around a week. I’m hoping she brings me more of the numbing gel because currently that’s the only way I’m getting down drink or water.

    I’m hoping today is the turning point and that things will slowly get better from here. I am so ready to eat normal food again or any food at all. I’m also really hoping that I don’t have any other bleeds from here on out. I’m trying not to blow my nose or sneeze since they they think the bleeding came from behind my nose.

    Fingers crossed for a smoother recovery from here on out!

  5. Does anyone know why there are weird ridges at the side of the tongue? Or am I the only one with that?? Feels like my tongue is too big for my mouth, very uncomfortable

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