Preparation for Tonsillectomy for older children and adults

Douglas G Mann, MD, Board Certified Otolaryngologist, Graduate of Yale University School of Medicine

Just because tonsillectomy is an outpatient procedure does not mean that the recovery is a breeze. It is not. In Germany, adults stay 4-5 days in the hospital!


So you should be ready to have a really sore throat, and to find drinking eating and sleeping challenging. You won’t be doing much useful work.

Make sure your employer or school has given you at least a week off for recovery, with the understanding that it could even take a little longer.

Get together some mindless entertainment, like a list of movies or TV shows you’ve been wanting to see. If you don’t already have Netflix, or Amazon or Google play or Apple TV, see if you can get it. A bunch of good CD’s is and alternative.

Don’t go it alone. You should be cared for by a loved one for at least a few days. Come home if you’re away at school. Have your wife or husband stay home with you. If you’re not married, this is a good test of your serious relationship!

Get prescriptions for your pain medications BEFORE your surgery day. You will be taking liquid medications meant for children, but your grown-up dose will be large, so you will go through a bottle of ibuprofen or acetaminophen quickly. You’ll need a pint 16oz of one of these if you’re a regular sized adult. Your doctor may prescribe a liquid narcotic. Some pharmacies do not stock these routinely, and you don’t want to be hopping from drugstore to drugstore just after leaving the hospital. You’ll have no problem if your pharmacist has a day or two to get your medicine for you.

Ask your doctor for a Tonsil Fire Extinguisher. It’s a little spray bottle that looks like a fire extinguisher that your doctor can fill for you with Lidocaine, a throat numbing spray. It’s very inexpensive, and it can be a godsend when your throat is really sore and you need to drink or eat something, or fall back to sleep. You’ll just spray twice on each side of your throat where your tonsils were. It stings a little, and tastes horrible, but it does the job, relieving the pain almost immediately. The relief lasts for about 20 minutes, and you’ll be able to safely use it every couple of hours.

Now you’re ready for your surgery! Don’t worry, everyone gets through it. You’ll do better because you prepared!

5 thoughts on “Preparation for Tonsillectomy for older children and adults

  1. Is gargling salty water help with healing ? I am post opp day 9 as of now from my surgery and the scabs are coming off, I just am drinking a lot of water , but I have a lot of redness around the area 🙁 and I am still on antibiotics, if i gargle salt water will it help with that ?
    Let me try to link a photo so yall can see what IM talking about!
    Also thanks for this website it has been such an amazing help !! Seriously!
    here is my photo

  2. Hope it’s okay to comment. I’m in agony. I already had my tonsils removed two years ago, had a tough recovery. I started with throat pain yesterday. Lost my voice and feel like someone is stabbing me in the throat. As soon as I woke up yesterday, every second of today.
    I’ve taken paracetamol, nurofen, salt wash, hot lemon, lots of water, gargled with difflam, strepsils and some other throat sweets with an antibiotic in them. First of all my question is can I still get tonsillitis and second anyone got any tips to help please. I just don’t know what to do.
    Thank you all and I hope you are all recovering well. I used this site a lot during my recovery days. very helpful.

  3. Hi Everyone,

    My name is Teri. I had Tonsil and Adnoid surgery on November 3rd. I am NOT ashamed to say that I am 41 years old. I have had nothing but “complications” since surgery. It’s not anyone’s fault, I was EXPECTING to have some problems since I am not in the best of health going in to surgery. I have Diabetes, Gastroparesis, feeding tube, and generally poor immune system. I had to have my tonsils out due to Viral Menagitis and Sepsis.

    I am now 3 weeks out, and just had an EMERGENCY Surgery on Saturday due to a SEVERE Throat bleed! I was on Coumadin due to a Pulmonary Embolism following surgery. I also developed Aspiration Pneumonia following the 1st surgery (didn’t I tell you I had some “complications”?)

    I don’t want to tell my story to SCARE anyone, but instead, WARN them! Complications are much more COMMON in Adults then in Children. My son had his out when he was 10! He was eating Potato Chips and Doritos a week later?

    I am NOW finally RECOVERING from Tonsil surgery after the 2nd surgery. I COULDN’T recover after the 1st because of all of the complications…I am FINALLY free of PAIN! It felt, every time I ate, I was swallowing “glass”.

    1. Wow Teri! Thanks for sharing- you’ve been through a lot. I admire your tenacity! Glad you’re doing ok now. I hope the surgery benefits you long term. Take care!

  4. My surgery was June 19. I am 57 and did this because of small tonsil stone issues and I’m a fanatic about white teeth and fresh breath. From reading the rest of the posts , our recoveries are in sync for the most part. So, I’d like to share info on nutrition part of the recovery. I bought an ice shaver and it has been a throat saver! I ate the ice plain to ease swelling, which is a nice change from sweet popsicles, jello, and applesauce. At the beginning I ate soft, runny grits with egg and cheese in it for protein, pureed Progresso lite chicken noodle soup, smoothies with fresh blueberries and rice protein powder. Protein is very important for healing. Then, on day 6 I made a French mirepoix soup with 1 carton of Swanson’s chicken stock (low fat), about half a bag of peeled carrots, one onion, 3-5 chicken breasts, and 5 sticks of celery. Put everything except the chicken stock in a food processor and pureed it, so it goes down smoothly! Cook about an hour. No seasonings. This soup will heal ANYTHING! You can make it with vegetable stock and leave out the chicken if you want to do the vegan version. It is so good. But, do not eat it hot. It needs to be just a little above room temp. so you don’t heat up that tender throat. Bought New Orleans snowball syrup today and will use the ice shaver for grandchildren now! So glad I had this procedure done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.