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.

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 

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

  1. P. S. I just had Kellie for the first time, and it hurt!

    All in all I had a pretty good u til it hit night time… pain is back.

  2. Hi all. I’m 27 years old and I’m on day 5 of recovery. This is absolutely horrible. I think I’d rather give birth. This morning, my mom tried giving me baby food (the banana one) and nearly wanted to die. It burned so much. I’ve been sleeping with a humidifier. All I can have is soup that my grandmother made, applesauce, G2, water with ice, and Gatorade popsicles. I’m too scared to try anything else. I brush my teeth twice a day because I hate the smell in my mouth. I do feel like after reading some other comments my pain is not anywhere near some others, or maybe I just have a high tolerance. Either way, I have one question. Does it really get worse on day 7-10 painwise? I feel like everyday I am a bit better.

    I’m supposed to start work on day 11 and I’m so scared because I can barley talk and my job requires much of that as I work in a school. I’m taking Tylenol (just switched to Motrin) an antibiotic the doctor prescribed me for swelling that I need to take 2 times a day. And oxicoden for pain. I take that one at night to sleep since that’s when my pain hurts the most. Please share with me what has helped and what hasn’t as well as your own recovery time. Thank you and food luck to all.

  3. I’m on a week from my operation of having my tonsils out, I’m now on antibiotics because I have caught an infection in my mouth I can drink but just water as everything taste weird in my mouth, I can eat I had kfc and a Chinese but couldnt eat it all as my mouth is still sore and hurts when I swallow, my ear ache is really painful 🙁 I’m a smoker and haven’t had a cig for 9 days does anyone know when this will start to feel better??

  4. Hi im on day 13 post op, the pains gone and im feeling ok now. But whats driving me nuts is how weird inside my throat feels now, my uvula is still swollen and chocking me… will this ever go away? It’s driving me nuts
    And everything just feels weird inside my mouth still.
    I can’t sleep on my back yet as i cant breathe through my nose yet, and there’s so much flem in my mouth and feels like somethings stuck in my throat non stop. Plus my voice is weird
    I hear everyone saying 2 weeks and there fine, ok your fine but do you still feel any of these things?
    Will all this go back to normal?
    Cheers Graeme

    1. I had mine done January 4,2018 it is now February 11 and I still have an area on the left side of my throat that feels like there is something stuck in it and my left ear still feels clogged. My left side was really bad, Primary doctor thought I had an abcess on the left but my ENT said it was a lesion..I will be calling my ENT tomorrow.

    2. i feel your pain. i also heard 2 weeks and i’ll be fine. i had mine done january 23. my uvula is still swollen, my right ear still hurts, horrendous taste in my mouth and i still wake up with a dry throat. i was told to be patient and continue to drink lots of water because i’m still in the healing process.

    3. Hi! Did the weird feeling on your throat went away? I got my surgery 17 days ago and i have the same feeling.

  5. I had my Tonsillectomy 1 week ago today. Let me just say that I am beyond ready to see the light at the end of the tunnel…

    I am a 22 year old female, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I try to maintain a healthy diet and moderate exercise.

    My recovery has been TERRIBLE! An absolute nightmare.

    First, I got stuck with a needle 8 times prior to my surgery because my veins kept bursting so now I have very large bruises on my hands and wrists.

    When I got out of surgery and I was in recovery I remember just crying and begging the nurse to let me go back to sleep. Before I left the hospital they gave me a dose of pain medicine that would hold me over until I got my prescription filled. I was prescribed 7.5ml hydrocodone with acetaminophen.

    The day of surgery I slept a good portion of the day, but that night one of my best friends picked me up so I could stay at her house. *Let me interject really quick and say I would not be where I am in my recovery if it we’re not for her* She did everything from making sure I was taking my medicine around the clock, and when the prescription was doing nothing to touch my pain she reached out and called my doctor. Finally my doctor prescribed me liquid Demerol. After this medication, I was able to sleep through the night. I also tested my limits on this medication and regretted it in the days to come. The Demerol knocked my pain out dang near completely and as a result I started talking, and that was not smart.

    I now have not talked for almost 5 days, and when I try talking it feels like I’m swallowing shards of glass.

    As stated above my surgery was 1 week ago today and although today is the best day I’ve had it’s not saying a lot.. I have a constant earache and toothache. My throat hurts everytime I swallow. I’m just trying to avoid talking at all.

    I stopped taking my pain medicine because it makes me nauseous because I haven’t been able to eat a whole lot.

    I’m just hoping this ends soon, because I’m over it.

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