Tonsillectomy Pain Management

I added the topic of tonsillectomy recovery pain medicine to the, “Before Tonsillectomy,” menu for a reason. The time to discuss pain management with your doctor is NOT at 3 a.m. on day six of your recovery when you’ve run out of pain medication. Sitting in your doctors office before surgery with a clear head, during his or her normal hours, is the time to have a rational discussion of your tonsillectomy pain medication. It’s also a good time to discuss other medications like anti- nausea drugs and steroidal anti inflammatory medication. I go into more detail in my book, but suffice it to say that pain management is best discussed in advance, in the light of day, with clear heads.


Tonsillectomy Recovery Pain
Tonsillectomy Pain Medicine


There is no one right answer to the question of how to address tonsillectomy recovery pain medicine. I recommend discussing expectations with your doctor before any prescription is written. Some doctors appreciate how painful a tonsillectomy recovery can be for an adult. Some do not. Having experienced it myself and read the accounts of thousands of tonsillectomy patients I can say with confidence that ten days is a pretty average length of time that pain management will be an issue after surgery. 

Tonsillectomy fire extinguisher text

If I had it to do over, I’d ask my doctor to write a prescription for a pain medicine without acetaminophen, (e.g. Tylenol), in it. Many common narcotic pain medications contain acetaminophen. Too much of the stuff can be quite dangerous. A problem arises when one tries to ween off the narcotic pain medicine and switch to simple acetaminophen. If there’s breakthrough pain, taking another drug that ALSO contains it can be dangerous. If the two are separate, the patient can alternate as needed. Ask your doctor.

In my book I also discuss some of the effects of taking narcotic pain medicine for several days- not as a doctor, but as a patient who experienced it. I wouldn’t face the surgery without these medicines, but a little knowledge could have helped me cope better.

Tonsillectomy pain medicine isn’t always chemical. Drinking cold ice water, chewing gum, or applying ice to the throat can also help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with tonsillectomy surgery. Many patients also get short term relief from throat sprays like Chloraseptic.

In short, I recommend being your own advocate in your pain management. Be straight forward and honest with your doctor and ask for a second opinion if you feel your doctor is not addressing your concerns.After your tonsillectomy, don’t be afraid to contact your Doctor’s office with questions or concerns about your tonsillectomy recovery pain medicine.


Tonsillectomy Recovery
Tonsillectomy Recovery

38 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery Pain Medicine

  1. Hi, my name is Anisha. I am 32yrs old. I had my tonsillectomy done on the 30 September. This is day 18 post-op and i am still having pain (when swallowing, ear pain, pain over my left side of my face and head). I knew it was going to bad, but did not realise that it would be for so long. When will the pain go away? Cannot do this much longer…

  2. I actually used to work at a vets office while in nursing school. I’ve got like 10 bags of Iv fluid I got when my dog got sick. I can use it if need be . I could probably give myself my own Iv fluid if I had to. Trying to drink 3 liters of water a day at least. Have a humidifier. Honestly the cold liquid feels better than the lortab lol

  3. Hey Becky. Interesting story. You’re still in the honeymoon though. Stay on top of your hydration. Can you do your own IV fluids? That would be a Godsend!

    Thanks for posting. Best of health to you

  4. My perspective might be a little bit different I’m a nurse and a nurse anesthetist so I knew exactly what to expect. Surgery doesn’t scare me, it’s very safe ESP if young and healthy. Never had surgery before or never really had pain. I gave myself a fluid bolus as in I increased my own fluid rate while waiting and mixed my antibiotic that was hanging behind my bed. I can’t help it, it’s what I do. My surgeon was very fast so I was just trying to speed turnover times. Lol. I even tried helping by hooking myself up to the monitors, I tried to preoxygenate myself but my arms were already tied down. Took some deep breaths they slipped me some propofol and that’s all I remember.I got 4 ml of fentanyl during surgery which is normal. I woke up in the recovery room 30 min later and that was all the pain meds I got. I didn’t need any. My surgery was at 1045 I woke up at 1130. Didn’t take any liquid lortab till like 10 pm last night. I’m on day 2 tech post op day 1. It’s not terrible, no worse than strept throat. Lol. They gave me 7.5 mg in 15 mls. That shit would knock me out, so I just half my dose. I took a dose this morning and then this evening after I woke up from a nap. I think my throat got a little dry while napping. Don’t think I need this stuff every 4 hrs. Drinking water helps more than anything though. I’ll keep you guys updated. I’m trying to not take pain meds and see how bad it gets lol. I can’t rate it on a scale of 1-10 bc I don’t know what to compare it to other than a dislocated knee. Lol. I’m 32 by the way. I haven’t felt like I’m dying and this is horrible. So far so good 🙂

    1. I’m 40 and having it done on Dec 22. You are the only who makes me think I won t die of pain !!

      1. You won’t if you get the strongest pain meds your doc is willing to give and take the least amount possible to relieve the pain. Healing goes faster and better if you follow this rule too, which means less pain over fewer days. I had a radical tonsillectomy for cancer in 2013, which is beyond the average surgery but the same rule applies regardless. Problem is, with the opiod epidemic a lot of people get shortchanged on meds. See if your doc will prescibe some lidocaine or what they call “magic mouthwash” which is compounded from Maalox, Benadryl and lidocaine. Although it will provide short-term relief, like what you’ll want to get to sleep as you heal several days out from surgery, it does interfere somewhat with swallowing (throat cancer patients get gastric tubes as you can’t swallow for months during treatment). If you use it carefully with the understanding that it’s best for ensuring rest and stay away from it otherwise, it may be helpful. Don’t let them give you the stuff with tylenol in it… want to have a liver left after recovery! You can always either add some tylonol or advil to the “heavy” stuff to help keep the dosage lighter. That depends on what your experience is. Most of all, listen to your body. It will guide you to the most important step…dropping the painkillers which you want to do as quickly as possible, while staying as pain free as possible.

  5. I had my tonsils out 6 days ago… my pain level goes up and down I was prescribed percocet the lowest miligram I have ben taking 2 at a time because the pain is so intense.. today is a very bad day I have been in bed all day crying because the pain is so so so bad I also have this barking cough that is not helping me at all I am almost out of pain meds and I am freaking out ; ( I called and left a message for my surgeon because I can’t imagine going without the pain meds! I have a very low tolerance to mouth and or throat pain and now I am panicking because I am almost out.. how long does this excruciating pain last? I am 30 and have already had to be jn the hospital over night do to the pain is there a better pain killer than percocet that last longer throughout the day? Will my doctor be sensitive to my needs and the pain I am in? Help any advise or anyone who has had the same problem would be greatly appreciated!

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.