Tonsillectomy Recovery Time


How long does it take to recover after having your tonsils taken out?

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!

Tonsillectomy fire extinguisher text
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

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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 

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94 Comments on "Tonsillectomy Recovery Time"

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May 25, 2016 12:23 am

My name is Carolyn and I am at 19 year old college student. When my ENT informed me that my tonsils needed to come out he recommended I stay home for the summer as opposed to taking summer classes at my college. I followed his advice, feeling it was a bit overkill, BUT BOY I WAS WRONG. I am on day 7, 1:20am chewing ice and pressing an ice pack to my neck. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy! My family had been very surprised because I have an incrediblely high pain tolerance, but this has whooped me. The day of my surgery everything went perfect! I woke up perfectly, received pain meds in my IV and went home. That night was a living hell. My mom and I soon learned I cannot take Loratab. It makes me VERY hyper and agitated. So I was up all night with no pain relief. I got some Oxy and have been doing good with that. The REAL magic is in the “MAGIC MOUTHWASH”!! It has numbing medication in the liquid and it’s so wonderful. Buy bags of ice from Sonic, Zaxbys ect; always have a cold press and heating pad handy. Take it easy, don’t EVER get over heated wether in the shower or moving because you will get sick. Rest up! You are in for a ride!!

May 18, 2016 9:45 pm

Im 20 years old and had my tonsils taken out 7 days ago. (May 11 2016). Days 1-4 really werent that bad. Took pain medication every four hours as persrcibed. Even managed to eat mashed potatoes, corn, and beans. I also left the house for about an hour or two each day to get some fresh air. Ears not bothering me and able to get almost a full nights rest each night. Other than that I relaxed and stayed in bed watching movies and staying very very HYDRATED. Days 5-6 however have been terrible. Scabs fell off leaving a burning sensation every time I try to drink or swallow. Finally had a melt down today, just wish I could sleep for the next week until I feel better. Ears still not hurting though. Cant really sleep. Still trying to stay very hydrated and managed to eat half of a very soft enchilada. I suppose in comparison to other people my recover really hasnt been all that bad, but I definitely think staying on top of liquids and pain medication has helped. Every time I think I’ll manage without them the pain gets worse. All I can really say is even when you wake up in the middle of the night drink water! When you think about it, drink water! Im not talking yet (or at least it hurts to do so) but hoping to be able to do so on day 12. Have a plane to catch tomorrow which should be interesting…

May 19, 2016 12:30 am

I got the surgery same day! i count the day of surgery as day 1 so now it is after 12 am so it is m 9th day. day 1 and 2 was not really that bad i just thought this is one of those typical sore throat i used to get, slept a lot and took medicine as instructed and was not in much pain. overnight i did have fever because i was dumb and talked a lot to my mother which made my throat to swell and develop fever. day 3, i decided eat some bagel because ive been craving them and took small bites each and had them. i did take tylenol for fever and it brought my temperature down to normal. i might have gotten my scabs to fall out from eating bagel and some meat when i went to church that night, but i was not bleeding, just burning pain. day 3-4 was just really bad 4th day i woke up in pain, didn’t get much sleep. had to take my painkiller with tylenol pm to get few hrs of sleep then extra strength tylenol during day time with painkiller to handle the pain. day 5-6 was not as bad, mixing two med has kept me sleeping at night (i wake up once every night to use bathroom; also when i take med again and hydrate). been eating boiled rice for couple days nice more scabs fell but was not as painful. Then day 7, i woke up with horrible burning pain it is probably from throat being dried over night although i drink lots of water. had to wait till med kicked in before i had meat; it was thin and i chewed it until almost liquid. i may have few more scabs fall out because i had this incredible burning sensation around night time, couldn’t really eat dinner but i did have frozen yogurt and ice in between. took another med and im just waiting for med to kick in so i can sleep a little. i was planning to go to work during recovery since i work on campus and it is summer break; hence not much to do but my body required more rest and sleep than i expected so i skipped work all week and literally stayed in bed most of times except once or twice this week to meet my bf. my summer course started and i haven’t had chance to really do much hw or assignment. I already have chronic depression but jeez this made me feel like it will never end and i’ll always be in pain and never get to eat normal food. it is miserable! i just want to sleep till day14 or whenever this pain is all gone! hopefully day 9 and upcoming days will be soooo much better!

May 15, 2016 2:07 am

Im 24. Had a tonsilectomy on the 28/4/16. Initially all was good other then a bit of uvula swelling which was irritating more then painful. Was eatinf solids straight away. I was very tired though which is normal after an operation. Spent all the first week sleeping. day 2 i spiked a fever and was given higher dose antibiotics. Day 6 noticed bad pain after eating (particualrly acidic food) radiatinf straight to the right over). Day 6-8 were awful because of it. But started improvinf after that. The pain decreased each day. On day 15 i sneezed and opened up my wounds bleeding quite heavily. Went to the emergency department given transamic acid and hydrogen peroxide mouth wash which stopped it. Got sent to see an ENT dr who put a camera down my nostril saying the bleedings stopped and i can go home or stay in hosptial. I prefered home rather foolishly. Roll onto 4 am day 16 and i wake up having choked on fresh bleeding. Rushed to the emergency department for the same treatment which stopped it (the bleeding is very heavy if it happens. It wont be streaks of blood. Itll be spitting out mouth fulls of blood and clots every fer seconds). transfered to see ent who have kept me in over night which is where im at now. Pain is fine though. Just dont sneeze!!!!! My throught looks much better with most cauterisation white bits gone. So far ive had 2 weeks of sick leave and am now probably gunna be off for another

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