Is throwing up normal after getting a tonsillectomy?
One of the more unpleasant symptoms experienced by patients after tonsil surgery is moderate to severe nausea. Throwing up, or vomiting, is never a pleasant experience, but during tonsillectomy recovery it can be terrifying and extremely painful. The throat tissues, already sore from the surgery, certainly don’t benefit from stomach acids passing over them. Furthermore, repeated vomiting can potentially cause hemorrhaging in the tonsil bed.
While nausea and even throwing up, is common during tonsillectomy recovery, it doesn’t have to be.
What causes tonsillectomy recovery nausea?
Initially, the drugs from general anesthesia are to blame for the woozy feelings and upset stomach post tonsillectomy. Most patients are prescribed narcotic medicines for pain management during their recovery. These medicines can also cause feelings of nausea.
How to treat post tonsillectomy nausea
So what is to be done to prevent or treat these unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects?
Firstly, nausea can often be avoided by keeping some food in the gut, especially before taking pain medicines. Staying ahead of the symptoms can ward off a vicious cycle. (Empty stomach increases nausea – vomiting creates an empty stomach.)
The good news is that there are many anti-nausea medicines available. It’s best to ask your doctor before surgery about these options.
We posed the following question to our Facebook community of tonsillectomy patients:
“I have a friend, who just had her tonsils out. 2 or 3 days after her operation, she was throwing up all day. They gave her medication to control it, but still felt terrible. Has anyone else experienced this, & what advice do you recommend that. I give her?”
Here is what our readers had to say:
- Lisa – The same thing happened to my daughter. The doctor gave her a Phenergan suppository and she was a million times better the next day!
- Sarah – I had the same thing – couldn’t figure out if it was the pain meds or not, but I definitely needed the pain relief! It was so bad I was admitted to the hospital because I couldn’t keep fluids down. Throwing up is awful, but the pain of throwing up after a tonsillectomy was horrid! My MD prescribed Zofran which was a miracle – little nausea pills that dissolve under your tongue. Not sure what I would have done without those! I used them for the next 2 weeks or so. I hope that helps
- Yolanda – I didn’t start throwing up until day 6. when I went to the Dr they gave me phenergan but in a gel form that I rubbed on my wrists. that way I didn’t throw up the medication. it worked great.
- Jessica – Same exact thing happened to me. 2 days after the surgery I was throwing up. Doctor ordered some Zofran which helped but I was still miserable. For me personally, it was the pain meds on a mostly empty stomach. Once I was feeling better, I would eat something (bread, scrambles eggs, mashed potatoes- all plain) and take my pain meds right after. It helped calm down my stomach a lot.
- Brandi – I started throwing up the night I had my tonsils out. Dr. called me in Phenegran suppository. They worked great – that was the only time I threw up during the recovery period.
- Vickie -My son, 11, just had his tonsils and adenoids out. He threw up on the way home from surgery and a couple times that night. Started the suppository anti-nausea the next morning, and that stopped the vomiting. He was still nauseous and down and out most of that day, day 2. Then in the middle of the night/early morning on day 5 he started vomiting again. At first, the nurse thought the initial vomiting day1/2 was from the anesthesia, but after this happened on day 5, they are thinking he didn’t tolerate the hydro well. Anyway, on day 5, I got super worried…He was very lethargic, pale, and couldn’t keep fluids/meds down. Of course it was a Saturday and the doc was now also out of town. The on call doc called in a steroid as a last resort. Said if didn’t stop vomiting by later that afternoon to take him to the ER, because he was probably lethargic/pale due to dehydration. Anyway, he did stop vomiting. I am sure it was because the suppositories we started giving worked and not the steroid. I was desperate, though, and gave the steroid because the doc said so. Not sure why he offered that.
- Jina – Zofran worked for me plus try to get something in your stomach before taking the pain pills. The pain pills are hard on your stomach!
- Ally –I was prescribed Roxicet for pain and ondansetron to ease nausea. Neither of them did their job though:/
- Shiva –I threw up right out of surgery for hours. I got a patch and it helped