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 

84 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery Time

  1. Sarah Geertsen

    I had my tonsils and adenoids removed on Feb 20. The first day was a blur as the medical staff had me well medicated for the return home. I stayed up on all my meds through day 5 and was very comfortable. It wasn’t as though I was 100%, but I felt like about 75% of myself. So much so that I tried eating more normal foods. Around day 7, the mucus really set in and the frustration increased. Water and sports drinks didn’t seem to help but you are not to try to cler your throat. Food was the only thing I found to really clear it all out for a bit. Day 9, I woke to severe ear and neck pain. The pain is dizzying and very uncomfortable. I am looking forward to relief as I find this to be the most difficult period thus far. My diet has been broth with VERY soggy crackers, Apple sauce, and Jello for the first 5 days. Later, I added scrambled eggs, Lipton extra noodle soup, and soggy cereals. About day 7, I started to eat. Small portions of soft foods like turkey lunch meat, avocado, mashed potatoes, peas, ramen noodles, etc. Small portions means I had maybe 3 or 4 bites a meal but it was better than a liquid diet. So far, the worst has been the 2ND week but it is survivable and I agree with taking 2 weeks off for recovery.

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