Tonsillectomy Recovery as Adult and Child 2019

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.


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

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1,288 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery as Adult and Child 2019

  1. I had mine taken out on 3/3/15, because the were large. I also had my deviated septum fixed along with other sinus issues. I was nervous to because of the stories I have read. I’m finishing day 5 of recovery and it hasn’t been that bad. If you drink lots of water, stay on top of the pain meds, you will be fine. My nose has splints and gauze in it, so I have to breath through my mouth. I kept ice by me, to keep my mouth wet. Sleeping was the hardest part.

  2. I had my tonsillectomy Friday Feb. 27. Today is Sunday March 8, 2015. My post op experience wasn’t the worst story I’ve heard so far. Days 2-5 were the worst and my pain was almost unbearable but now that I’ve reached Day 8 I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My best advice for anyone getting ready to have the procedure done is to drink drink drink! Do not let your throat get dry or you will regret it! To prevent it from drying while sleeping I used a humidifier. Take pain meds on schedule or you will regret it as well. I have successfully been able to eat scrambled eggs, soup, Mac and cheese, and popsicles anything else has felt like such a chore. Personally, things got exceptionally better for my on Day 7 which was also yhe day I went back to my ENT. He said that I was healing ahead of schedule and I should be back to normal by day 10.
    Oh yea, I also used the ice pack I was given at the hospital for my neck and ears. Hope this helps someone else out.

  3. Hello all. I got my Tonsillectomy 3/5/15. After surgery I was given ginger ale and ice chips before I came home. So far so good? I mean I’m staving but I’m at least able to swallow water and my liquid Vicodin that tastes horrible. I have been nauseated alot today being the second day and the anesthesia im assuming wearing off. I drink as much water as I can but the ice chips are soooo much more better. It’s certainly 1 a.m and I’m munching on them as I type. I am prepared for the worst but expecting the best for all these blogs I’ve read about the daily changes. I’ve happy to have had those nasty tonsils out and will post back on my updates. Stay well and very hydrated people!

  4. I got mine out on 3/2/2015 (3 days ago)
    And it’s doable for me. I can only eat when my pain meds are fully working (2,5 hours after taking) and still nowhere near painfree, but it’s okay. And these are warm foods, like: overoiled pastas or some soup. The real pain for me is when i have to eat a ice lolly or drink ice water. Or whenever i’m in between meds which suck so bad. But for the rest, it’s really not too bad. The worst part was when i had to throw up the all the old blood i swallowed during and after the procedure. But for everybody whose experience is worse than mine i have one tip, DON’T FORGET TO DRINK WATER AT NIGHT! I forgot it yesterday and waking up this morning was pretty painfull and i took me a full day to get my throat hydrated again.

    1. I had my tonsils out on March 2 – 2015 and it is now day 5 after op – in hospital they told me to try to eat normal food because ruffage and the chewing motion helps recovery and iceblocks help with swelling
      The importent part was thet I have to gurgel with saltwater – it speeds up recovery ( hahaha) they never told me how strong this saltwater should be – I am on 4 hourly painkillers and antibiotics 3 times a day
      Pain at the moment is mean and the back of my tongue is hurting like mad
      I am 66 years old and my recovery might take up to 3 weeks

  5. *Got a tonsillectomy 2/23… 3/5 there is still a lot of pain. I have a high tolerance for pain, but I’m chugging pain meds every three hours. Everything hurts, head, gums, neck, under tongue, roof of mouth, have minimal desire to eat (if I’m not doped up I can’t) because it’s often excruciating to swallow, waking up at night is awful. I can only hope it’s worth it because I had no idea the pain would last so long, and cold foods make it WORSE for me. Warm foods, and drinks are most soothing. I damn near want to cry, and I didn’t cry during childbirth! I have no tips other than get it done sooner than later, make sure you have lots of help if you have kids, you’ll need at LEAST two weeks off work, drink as much as you can after you take your pain meds cus it will be hard to get fluids in, get lots of rest. I was hoping to get pain relief alternatives between meds… So far nothing. Good luck!

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