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. Wow.. I have read many stories on this site of tonsillectomy and My case have been a little different.. I went under the knife April 20th for this surgery and it has become a nightmare for me.. My experience as far as pain as been the same for me like everyone else but i have a few problems now.. My biggest problem is my loss of taste.. Idk if its due to the surgery of them burning out my tonsils and the heat may have damaged a nerves im not sure or maybe the anesthesia.. Idk.. My other problem is now i feel like its a tiny ball stuck in my throat but i was told it would go away soon.. My next problem is that I can no long gulp fluids without the fluids wanting to come out my left nostril.. I went in for a surgery and came out with all of this.. I just hope my taste comes back .. Any advice would help.. Thanks

    1. I had my tonsillectomy in Feb and never ummmm…. I never lost fluids out of my nostrils. Now it happens all the time. Whilst I would not want my tonsils back after a fairly miserable existence with them, this was an unexpected side effect. Sorry, I never lost my taste, but my sneezing is awful.

    2. Hi Danny i too had my tonsils out on 20th April and yes i i too have no taste and feel like i have a golf ball stuck in my throat was told this feeling could take 6 months to go and i will get my taste back eventually. I do sneeze more than i used to but at least over the worse.

  2. Hi all. I’m a 23 year old female and got my tonsils removed on April 24th, so about 10 days ago if you count surgery day. Let me just start off by saying that this recovery has been HELL. I have never expirenced pain like this in my entire life. My first two days seemed okay and I was pleasantly surprised. I was eating soft foods and drinking with little pain. Once days 3-6 came…. I felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks. Nothing helped the pain, I could not stand to swallow anything and ended up getting dehydrated and had to get fluids pumped in me at the ER. However once I got through that hump things started to get better and have been consistently since. I still do have pain and the referred pain in the ears, mostly at night and in the morning. I feel as though the scabs are starting to come off- I hope. I mostly just feel like I have a case of strep throat, which is tolerable given what I had just gone through.

    Anyways this website realllllllllllyyy helped me through this recovery. Reading everyone else’s stories made me feel like I wasn’t alone because during those painful days, it was easy to get depressed, and I did. I hope anyone reading this before surgery doesn’t get discouraged but deffinetly be prepared. Don’t make the same mistakes I did and DRINK WATER!!!

  3. This site has been so helpful during my recovery. Thanks to Greg and everyone for sharing your journey. I’m going to share mine in hopes of helping others like you’ve all helped me.

    I’m 35 years old and live in NYC. Had my tonsils out 6 days ago.

    Overall the pain is akin to the worst bout of tonsillitis I’ve ever had (I had to get Percocet to help with the pain from that bout to put it in perspective) but the difference between that and the tonsillectomy is that it is on both sides of my throat, my tongue and whereas a typical case of tonsillitis (for me) would go away after a couple of days with steroids this extremely sore throat just keeps kicking. So it’s essentially groundhogs day with the worst sore throat of your life.

    For me, I can get the pain under control with extra strength Tylenol. It doesn’t go away but makes it manageable…until I start to think I’m feeling better and listen to my grumbly tummy and try to eat. Then I just wake the dragon and all hell breaks loose. My throat swells, feels on fire and I have searing shooting pain in both ears. As soon as this happens I’ve been taking a Percocet, waiting a bit for it to kick in then give eating another shot.

    I’m only eating soft foods, mashed sweet potatoes have been my favorite, and find that cold water or iced tea seem to be the most tolerable drinks.

    Things that have helped me:

    – Ice packs on neck. I got one that wraps around (supposed to be for the back) and I put it over my whole neck/chin/jawline. It helps SO much.

    – Drinking everything with ice. This seems to really help.

    – Concentrating on swallowing down the middle of my tongue/throat really helps avoid extra pain.

    – Hot baths.

    – Relaxing my throat muscles. This was a huge help. I read it on this site and boy was it a life saver.

    Overall I feel I was unprepared for the duration of this thing and underestimated my recovery time. I thought I’d be back at work in a week. Ha! Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to heal.

    Good luck everyone!

    1. Forgot to add that I’ve been swishing mouth wash around only in my mouth several times a day to help with the horrible taste. After the mouthwash I use regular water to rinse, gargle and spit. It has been a lifesaver in making the decaying taste of scabs go away.

      1. Just wanted to update everyone. Today is day 9 and like so many others have said once you hit day 8 it really gets better. I feel like on day 8 I truly turned a corner and my throat went from excruciatingly searing pain to just the pain of a mild case of strep. Today it was even better. I was actually able to eat two meals today which was a godsend as I’ve been so hungry but unable to eat. I also went to one meeting (didn’t talk much so it was okay) and was able to pick my son up from school and take him to the park with his friends and then pick up my daughter. It was great to feel well enough to be a mom again as before today I mostly relied on help from their other parent and my mom.

        Hoping it’s smooth sailing from here. But for those of you reading this and looking for the light at the end of the tunnel it’s coming!

        For me it was day 8. Hang in there!

  4. This is the best post i have read on here, i am on day 4 and am managing my pain killers quite well, i still have pain when i swollow.
    I sleep upright with a CPAP machine (i have sleep aponea) think this is helping quite a lot.
    Eating is hard as you say everything gets stuck so i wash everything down with water.
    I know i have a long way to go and am waiting for the pain to set in as everyone has warned me but my biggest fear is bleeding i so do not want this to happen.

    Im finding these pages a great help but must say reading them before my op made me so nervous and worried, good luck everyone speak soon 🤭

  5. Hi Everyone!

    I’m 24 years old and 2 weeks post surgery and let me just say… you are in for a ride.

    Like many people on this forum I was FREAKED out when I read all the comments. I must of read hundreds and whilst it prepared me for the surgery and what to expect from the recovery, it did give me unnecessary anxiety going into it.

    There’s a lot of repetition in the forum so I won’t be going day by day in detail but I will try and give some helpful notes.

    1. Most importantly – YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS! Yes, it’s painful as hell and it will make you have teary moments but not at one point did I regret this. It will help your health in the long run and that is way more important than a few days of pain.
    2. I live in Australia so I’m not sure how the pain medication differs in other countries but this is the best advice I got from my doctor. Every time I took an endone (oxy) I would take 2 advil and panamax with it. They would help the oxy to work at it’s best.
    3. Keep yourself occupied in different ways! I took breaks from Netflix because staring at a screen started giving me headaches. I would hang out with my housemates on the couch even though I was in incredible pain and unable to talk. Surrounding yourself with positive people who are gonna distract you from the pain is important.
    4. Oatmeal was the only thing I could eat for a number amount of days. I didn’t read much about people getting food stuck in their throat but this was a massive issue for me! Anything other than oatmeal would just sit at the back of my throat and I would end up having to cough it back up – disgusting I know… which brings me to my next point.
    5. THIS IS THE MOST DISGUSTING SURGERY EVER! The vile smell that comes from your mouth (do anyone that’s around you a favour and don’t talk), the spitting up the rotting bits of scab every morning (days 5-8 for me) and all the mucus that forms in your mouth and back of your throat.
    6. When I was high on oxy I would find some really fun things to do that were a different type of distraction. I planned about 5 different holidays over a couple of days because it really took my mind off the pain and put me in a headspace I was going on a holiday. Seems silly I know, but you’d be surprised how helpful something like this could be.
    7. Take 2 weeks off work! You’ll feel better by day 10 but give yourself an extra few days to relax because coming off the pain killers is terrible. I didn’t read anything about this on the forum so I might be different but I’m having a difficult time coming off the oxy (I’m on day 13 btw). My body hurts and I constantly feel irritated which prevents me from sleeping. Not nice.
    8. I did wake up in the middle of the night to bleeding on night 8. There was quite a lot of blood but my housemate called the hospital and they said unless I’m struggling to breathe I didn’t need to come in. Bleeding did not hurt me one bit! Just ruined my sheets my mum gave me for Christmas 🙁
    9. My final point and I cannot stress this enough – please try and have a positive attitude about this. We are very lucky to be able to get our tonsils removed so remember that! I found having a sense of humour helped me get through this. My housemates would joke around with me, call me smelly (the breath) and make fun of how useless I was. At the same time, they were always there to cook me my daily oatmeal and rub my back when I was feeling beat.

    Extra things that helped me:

    – Ice water was way easier for me to get down. Please drink lot’s of water to prevent bleeding.
    – Ice packs were my hero
    – Not talking from days 3-8, I used pen and paper to communicate
    – Obviously by a humidifier
    – Earplugs for the earaches
    – Having a vegan diet (meat and dairy hurts the throat)
    – Icy poles NOT ice cream
    – Hot baths
    – Start going for walks on about day 7/8 to get your body working again.

    Yes this hurts! There’s different types of pain throughout the 2 weeks but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Completely worth it! My right tonsil was constantly infected for 18 months and I was sick of it. Good riddance!

    Good luck everyone!

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