Tonsillectomy Recovery Time

Tonsillectomy recovery time is unique for each patient. Recovery time for children is much shorter than for adults, with seemingly less pain. My own eight year old son was back to his old self in less than a week after his tonsillectomy. This may have fanned the flames of my unreasonable expectations of my own  recovery time as an adult. His was fairly typical of a child his age. Children’s bodies heal faster than adults’ do.

Recovery for an adult is a different story. Age matters. In fact, it appears that the older an adult is at the time of their tonsillectomy, the longer the recovery is, in general. Based on my own adult tonsillectomy recovery, and the stories of thousands of my readers, I’d put the average adult tonsillectomy recovery time at approximately 10.43 days. Yes, I’m that good!

Humor aside, ten days seems to be pretty typical. I added the .43 because so many people, myself included, thought they had it licked and went back to work around day ten, only to find they weren’t quite ready. As scabs slough off in second week of recovery, many adults experience a bit of a pain relapse, just as they thought they were almost recovered. This is a really tough period for many. They’ve spent almost two weeks with minimal sleep, minimal nourishment, minimal activity, and lots of pain medicine. It can be downright depressing for adults recovering in this second week.

Check out our new tonsillectomy recovery video- Caution: Not always pretty

I do hear from many adults whose recovery times are closer to a week – perhaps due to my good advice, perhaps due to genetics. It’s hard to say why some adults’ recovery times are shorter, and their experiences less traumatic. There are also cases that drag out further. If you’re one of a small minority that requires re-cauterization for bleeding, or don’t take the proper precautions, (many of these are outlined here and in my book), your tonsillectomy recovery time may be as much as three or four weeks. I want to make an important point here- one that I cannot overemphasis: Stay hydrated! Keep drinking fluids! Dehydration is the worst enemy of the tonsillectomy patient.

My advice: ask your employer, your family, your friends, and the rest of the world to give you two weeks for your adult tonsillectomy. You may surprise them, hopefully for the better.

Recovery is unique to each individual- sure.  We know that recovery time for adults is longer, and maybe harder, than for children. I remember my own son bouncing back in less than a week! My own experience taught me that ten days off from a job that required lots of talking was a bit light.  I generally advise two weeks.  As I’ve said, most employers will let you come back early.  That’s easier than asking for more time after the fact. I’ve read the accounts of thousands of tonsillectomy patients- most of them adults. I’ve learned that the time required varies. I wonder though, how many tonsillectomy patients never really post about their experience.
Are you one of those quiet ones lying in the weeds? I’d like to get a better feel for the average adult tonsillectomy recovery time. Please take a moment and share your own experience in recovering from tonsillectomy surgery. You can help us all!I’ve put together a collection of items that I think would be helpful, if not essential, to making tonsillectomy recovery a little more pleasant. Check out the
Tonsillectomy General Store.

Tonsillectomy Recovery Time

-Greg Tooke 

69 comments on “Tonsillectomy Recovery Time
  1. rita says:

    tonsils out wed. today is saturday. i’m 61 . jaw aches, teeth ache, ears ache. found that 800 mg ibuphrophen (spelling?) helped a lot…more than percocet, oxy etc.

  2. jonathan says:

    I just had my tonsils out yesterday, and im looking for a little help/info. Is it normal to choke on thin liquids like water.

    • jonathan says:

      Just an update. I cqlled my dr, and they told me to take benadrly. Im allergic to prednisone, so they,couldnt give me that for swelling. By the end of the day, my tongue no longer hung out of my mouth, and i could swallow reasonable things.

      • Liz says:

        Yes, it’s normal to choke a little on fluids initially. It’s important to keep drinking, hard as it may be to swallow. I found that ice chips/pellets were a lifesaver.

        For swelling, use ice packs around the clock. Really helped me.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Jonathan. Had my tonsils out same day as you….. How are you doing now?

  3. sloan says:

    despite my first 2 days being horrible i am at the end of day 3 and have not felt any pain today other than when i tried to eat a cabbage roll. is this normal to be pain free so early? i think the reason i may be responding so well is because i have been forcing myself to eat and drink. i ate pork steak while crying last night but i think eating real food helps. also gargling salt water is amazing, i am 21 btw

  4. Kari Bumgarner says:

    Hello, I’m 20 years old and had my tonsillectomy 16 days ago. The first week was hell, and then some. The second week may have been even worse. Not because of the pain, but because of the blood. I lost about a cup of blood in 3 days. I was really worried and went to the hospital the first time I stated to bleed. The doc at the hospital suctioned out the clot and sent me on my way saying I was fine. The next time I was bleeding it stopped right after I got up and I only lost about 1/4 of a cup of blood. The next time I started bleeding, I lost about a half a cup and we tried to get a hold of my EMT. They never called me back so finally, fed up and thinking I’m going to die, I just went to my EMT’s office. He saw me and reassured me that I wasn’t going to die and told me that if I bleed again to go back to the hospital so they can recauterize my wound. He also told me that with the 20 something years he’s been doing the surgery, he’s never had a bleeder after day 14. Luckily I’ve been 3 days without bleeding, however I still have the blood taste in my mouth and think I’m going to die. Maybe I’m just paranoid now. I would never recommend this surgery to anybody. The worst thing ever. If I could go back in time, I would.

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