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How long does it take to recover after tonsillectomy?





Tonsillectomy recovery time is unique for each patient. The recovery timeline 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 tonsils taken out. 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.

Tonsillectomy Recovery Time

What to expect after tonsil surgery

The timeline for 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.

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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 timelines 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.

tonsillectomy recovery timeRecovery 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.

-Greg Tooke 

262 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery Time | How long does it take?

  1. I will be returning to work from having tonsils taken out on October 11, 2018. This has been a very rough recovery. I honestly don’t feel like I’m ready to return to work yet.

  2. I’m currently Day 5 post tonsillectomy and it feels like this will never end! I really was not prepared for the level of pain I’ve experienced

  3. Hi, I am 42 years old and get strep every three months or so . I am contemplating on wether I should get the surgery or not? Any thoughts? Thanks !

  4. I’m almost twenty and got my tonsils and adenoids out ten days ago. The pain has been terrible. I had a twelve level spinal fusion a year ago and this recovery is significantly worse- I’d rather have back surgery again. It’s emotionally draining being up every four hours for pain meds (keep up with them though!!) and being hungry and unable to eat. Drinking and eating ate so tough too but it is important to do both. I had done a lot of research on recovery so when at 11pm Wednesday night I spit up some blood I knew something was wrong and a bigger bleed was coming. I was right. At 3am blood started pouring out of my mouth in clots. After about twenty minutes and a filled sink later I got it to stop with ice water. We called the doctor in the morning and I came in. He couldn’t tell where the bleeding was from so he had me gargle ice water and the bleed started again. There was so much blood. I clogged their sink, it was on the walls, the ground, and quickly filling a bowl they had in front of me as they gave me four shots in my throats (OUCH) and tried to cautherize with a long, burn t, wooden match looking thing. It stopped briefly but I was immediately brought to surgery and they found a hole in my throat which they stitched up and they cauterized an artery and pumped my stomach because there was so much blood in it. Surprisingly, I feel so much better today. I couldn’t talk before it or really eat. One day post op and I am eating and talking almost normal. Terrible process but hopefully will be worth it. Know that if you have a small bleed a bigger one is probably coming and call your doctor as soon as you can.

  5. Hey! I’m 19 years old. Got my tonsils removed July 18th. 12 days post op & this is just a little bit of my experience. I was okay after my surgery I was in pain but I slept the whole day and it went on up until my 3rd day. That’s when the pain really kicked in and lasted till my 7th day. I got pneumonia after my surgery which I didn’t quite understand how. I was back & forth to the hospital all because I couldn’t swallow any types of fluids or meds. My meds would go up my nose and burn so much. After 8 days, I started feeling a little better and my scabs were coming off. I’ve lost 20 pounds after my surgery. I still haven’t been eating. Even soft foods just because I hate the discomfort feeling of a sore throat. That’s what my throat feels like right now. Every time I would swallow liquids or even my own saliva, I felt like there was a scab stabbing my throat but my ENT said there was nothing there and it should start to heal within a few days. That started around day 7. It might just be a cut at the very end of my tongue which I can’t see. The pain is still there but it’s basically almost gone. I ate watermelon yesterday for the first time and it was amazing! The sore throat feeling is super annoying but I’m hoping that it’s just gone within the next two days! Just remember guys, the pain is always going to get worse before it gets better. STAY AWAY FROM DAIRY ! My biggest mistake and I didn’t even have my adenoids taken out. I had so much flems and when I was having so much ear pain it was the worst trying to spit or swallow my flems. Stay hydrated and keep up w the meds. I was given hydrocodone to take every 4 hours but I took it every 3 hours because I don’t tolerate pain very well. Switch off with some children tylonel as well so the stronger meds don’t make you feel nauseous and all types of ways!

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