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


1,271 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery – Adult | Child Tonsillectomy”

  1. Okay so I’m 18 in a month and got my tonsils and adenoids out. I’m currently on day 8. Honestly this is the worst pain I have ever felt in my life and the worst part is it’s so constant! I find that none of my pain meds really kill the pain, I have endone pills but they make me sick, dizzy and only really help for about 20 minutes.
    I understand that everybody recovers at different rates but I tell you I’m getting sick to death of this waiting game! It’s honestly torturous! I haven’t eaten in 4 days because the second anything passes my throats I get this sharp stinging pain and it leaves me in tears because it’s so awful. I’ve tried and tried to eat I really have but it’s just too much. I’ve been drinking a hell lot of water which I’m proud of as I know it’s at highest importance, and pretty much just drinking it to try and soothe my throat but even that stings and I find myself bracing myself before I take a sip. The worst part is getting medication down, I dread it terribly and put it off as much as I can and often find myself just holding the pills In my hand for ages before they go down; putting it off. My throat is apparently starting to look better but I feel like the pain has been very constant and I wouldn’t say I feel any better. I find myself grinding my teeth at night because the pain is so bad and waking up with a sore jaw. Going to sleep is the worst… I sit up as long as I can because I’m scared to sleep, the pain in the morning is horrific. My ears are sore as is my head most of the time. I feel weaker and weaker everyday and I haven’t left the house since the operation. I’m so sick of this pain and although I guess it will be worth it in the future at my age due to my constantly reoccurring tonsillitis, I wish I had never done it. I think the surgeon needs to have someone who has been through it give an honest opinion and advice to those contemplating getting it done as I had no idea what I was walking in too. And I’ll tell you one thing I’m not a baby for pain. I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone! If anyone else is experiencing similar problems please reach out! I’m becoming more and more depressed every day.

  2. Hi All,
    I’m 56 and on day 9…omg I had no idea how difficult this would be! I just keep telling myself it will all be worth it in the end. After 6 years of constant infections I was told by my ENT my tonsils were a breeding ground for bacteria. I could use some positive reinforcement from anyone willing to take a moment!! I quit pain meds day 3, they were making me totally sick! So I’ve been on ibuprofen and just recently Aleve.
    Thank u!!

  3. Hi all, I’m 23 years old and I had my tonsillectomy 6 days ago.
    I want to start off by saying that my pain is currently a 9, it was a ten earlier when I was sat in a&e waiting room crying stupidly to my self.
    I believe the surgeon may have burnt my tongue by accident and I can’t seem to stick it out at all.
    The first day was hilarious, the medication was so intense I became the comedy queen to all the nurses in the ward. The second day I wasn’t bad at all either. On the third day I became irritable and left my moms to go back to my own place I just couldn’t get comfortable. The fourth day I became intensely better, happy and talkative but I believe at this stage I had stupidly over medicated myself and I became a little delirious. The fifth day, my god- fever hit, my tongue is huge my jaw hurts my ears feel like they’re bleeding. I keep hacking up stuff off my throat which is lumpy and stinky. I’m currently typing into my phone, dribbling into towel hoping that writing down my feelings are gonna make me feel a bit better. And now I’m approaching the sixth day.
    While in a&e they were extremely unhelpful prescribed me tramadol and some antibiotics even though I told them I can no longer swallow water!
    I have an appointment tomorrow with the ENT department at the proper hospital.
    I’m trying to stay awake because I feel like I’ve mixed to many pills and I’ll over sleep.

    I hope that in the end I find this all worth it.
    I’ve had problems with my tonsils since I was tiny but nothing as servere as the constant strep throat I’ve had this year.
    The strep throat has caused bouts of psoriasis which have been extreme in covering my whole body. When it dies down strep throat happens again….
    Then shingles…
    The strepthroat
    The psoriasis
    The cycle was ongoing and I’m not gonna lie it has made me the most depressed I’ve ever felt in my life.

    I’m currently so dehydrated that I can’t lift my head for more than 2 minutes.
    Dear lord have mercy

  4. I’m a 23 year old female and I had mine taken out on the 4th of Jan. I’m on day 10 now and getting ready to go back to work tomorrow. I thought I would share my experience as it’s definitely not been as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was freaking out before, so much that I nearly called it off on the day of my operation, but so glad I went through with it. My main advise would be to stay hydrated and to get a humidifier. I was drinking about 1.5/ 2 litres of water a day, and had my humidifier on every night and found that helped.

    But essentially my experience was:

    Day of Op: Got to the hospital at 7am as instructed.I’d been told that my operation would happen anytime between 8am-11am. I bought my mum along with me as the ‘responsible adult’ who’d be taking me home after. She’s also a nurse so could ask all the questions I would most likely not even think about.

    I was taken to my room, and got dressed into the robes they give you. The nurse came in and asked me some questions and did some tests. Then the anaesthesiologist came in and talked me through how the general anaesthesia works and basically reassured me. He’d had his tonsils taken out at the age of 52 and basically said that its very uncomfortable but wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. Then my ENT doctor, who was the one doing the procedure, came in and talked me through the actual tonsillectomy and made me sign some stuff. He also told me that I was the first patient of the day, so I would be going in in about 15 minutes.

    When it was time, the nurse came down to get me and we went to the theatre. At this point I was slowly starting to freak out and contemplated not going through with it. My nurse then left me with the anaesthesiologist and another nurse. As they were preparing me for the general anaesthetic, they really put me at ease about the whole thing, talking me through what they were doing at each stage and generally asking me questions about how my Christmas was. The general anaesthetic was probably the most bizzare part. One minute I’m in the middle of talking about my Christmas, and the next thing I know, I’m being woken up in the recovery room and its an hour and a half later. It genuinely felt like I’d had the best night sleep ever. I felt so refreshed and couldn’t feel any pain whatsoever that I was convinced they hadn’t gone through with the operation. I started freaking out that I’d need to reschedule, which would mean booking more time off work. But then the nurse told me that they had already done the operation.

    I was then taken to my room and basically told to kick back and relax. A nurse would come in every 30 minutes to take my blood pressure, oxygen and temperature. After an hour I was given iced water to drink and told food would be on its way. I felt absolutely fine, not much pain (probably due to the pain medication coming through my drip). My mum was in the room with me, and I was even able to talk like normal.

    When the food came in, I literally couldn’t believe how much food there was. They’d given me 6 mini chicken sandwhiches, salt and vinegar crisps, mushroom soup, the worlds hardest bread roll, ice cream, apple juice and a fruit salad. Even on a normal day I would not have been able to finish all the food. But in order to get discharged, I had to eat as much as possible. I had about a tablespoon of the ice cream and a sandwhich and nearly throw up. So they took the food away. An hour and some anti sickness medicine later, we went for round 2 with the food and I was able to eat all the sandwiches and crisps. The mushroom soup though made me feel extremely nauseous.

    At around 4 I was discharged. At this point I was starting to feel the pain a bit, especially after eating. I’d say the pain was about a 4 out of 10 and my ears, tongue and jaw ached slightly.

    We got an Uber back to my flat from the hospital. I had a brief conversation with the Uber driver, but could feel the strain in my throat at this point. I then had to travel back to my home town (as my family would be looking after me) so my mum drove us 2 and a half hours back home. Thankfully because of the pain medication I just about made the journey.

    Day 1-2 post op: the pain wasn’t that bad, but there was a slightly bad taste in my mouth which was very off putting. I was taking my medication 3 times a day as instructed, although I could have probably taken it only once or twice a day, and slept through the night quite well. (the pain medication was a bit hard to swallow though as the pills were huge) I thought the pain would go up significantly as the days went on, so I tried to eat as much as possible in these 2 days. My doctor had recommended I stick to rougher foods like crisps and toast, and to try and eat as close to normal as possible. I mainly had a mixture of soft and rougher foods like jelly, porridge, noodles and French toast. I managed to have sweet corn and a Chinese take away with prawn crackers on day 2. I actually felt that after eating rougher foods, the pain eased a bit more. I tried having ice cream and yoghurts, but dairy was making me a bit phlegmy. I also avoided spicy foods and fruit as that made the pain go up a bit.

    Day 3-5: the pain got to about 5/ 10 at the stage. Talking became a bit more difficult so didn’t really speak much. But I was still able to eat and drink without any real issues. I started reacting to my medication slightly and had a bit of a stomach ache. I’d been warned that the medication can be a bit rough on the stomach. But it got better after day 5.

    Day 6 – Talking became easier again. I was craving crisps, so pretty much a whole tube of pringles to myself.

    Day 7 –last day I took my pain medication, and pretty much haven’t needed any since. The pain has dulled to a 1 or 2. The only strange thing now is that my sneezes have become a bit weird. It seems to turn into a cough/ sneeze which is quite painful on the throat. But hoping that will pass

  5. You guys are sad- the lot of you😂 day 6 now and haven’t had pain meds since day 2 nothing- and I’ve been tolerating everything pain isn’t close to making me cry

    1. People have different bodies so I think you should shut the fuck up. Like good for you that that is how you’re body reacts, but no one is here trying to top people with pain. So no one needs to hear your bullshit. K thanks.

    2. 25 yr old male. On day 9 today and feeling good. Ive been off all medicine (tylenol, and percs) for 36 hours now and was only taking 1/2 a perc every 4-6 hours from days 1-5. I lived off small amounts of coconut oil, homemade applesauce and vegetable broth. NO DAIRY, NO MEAT, NO SUGAR! It will slow down your recovery. Ice packs on the neck are also a necessity and make sure you stay hydrated! Apple juice and water mixture did it for me.

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