Tonsillectomy Side Effects

After Tonsillectomy

Side effects

Aside from no longer having tonsils, the effects of tonsillectomy are somewhat unique to each individual. All surgeries carry the risk of complications. While tonsillectomies are no different, tonsillectomy side effects are usually mild. They sometimes reach the discomfort levels of the chronic respiratory infections leading to most tonsillectomies. For other people, ten days of significant pain is a common tonsillectomy side effect.

Not everyone undergoing a tonsillectomy has the same side effects. If you’re putting off a tonsillectomy because side effects are a concern, knowing the possible complications may help you reach a decision.

Tonsillectomy fire extinguisher text

Tonsillectomy Side Effects in Children

The tonsils reach their largest size in children between the ages of 4 and 7, according to the Better Health Channel. Your child is most susceptible to infected tonsils during these years. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital reports that tonsillectomy side effects for this age group include:

• Residual bleeding
• Anesthesia-induced nausea or vomiting during the first 24 hours following surgery
• Throat pain that may irritate the nerve leading to the ears
• Jaw or neck pain
• Mouth breathing and snoring for up to two weeks
• A voice change if the child’s tonsils were very large
• Low-grade fever for a few days

Some children may continue experiencing these tonsillectomy side effects for up to two weeks. Most, however, recover fully within seven to 10 days. Tonsillectomy recovery for adults is another story.

Tonsillectomy Side Effects in Adults

Adults may require longer recovery periods than children. Tonsillectomy side effects in adults include:

• Post-operative pain in the throat and back of the oral cavity
• Nausea from residual bleeding
• Pain subsiding after 48 hours and recurring three or four days later. It may involve the ears as well as the mouth and throat.
• An unpleasant taste from scabs forming over the surgical wounds.

The American Association of Pediatrics’ “Textbook of Pediatric Care” reports the most common tonsillectomy complication is postoperative bleeding, in 1 to 2 percent of cases.

Tonsillectomy Side Effects

Tonsillectomy Side Effects

Greg Tooke

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57 Comments on "Tonsillectomy Side Effects"

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September 4, 2016 8:26 pm

Hi all, I love this site and am so grateful for it. I’m 2 years post adult tonsillectomy. It was a painful recovery but so happy to have done it. BUT I recently got a cold and the pain in my throat is similar to after the surgery. I don’t feel like I have a typical cold related sore throat, it is completely concentrated on the surgery sites. The pain is the same as week 2, tolerable to some degree, but there’s pain at the surgery site and my ears hurt as well. Is this phantom tonsils?? I’m over my cold, but the pain persists. Any ideas??

May 5, 2016 8:59 am
Hey folks, I am one of the lucky ones. I had my tonsils removed in 1998 at age 7 due to a persistent sore throat that began as (what turned out to be) an antibiotic resistant strain of streptococcus that went from normal strep throat to chronic over the period of several months. I missed a lot of 1st grade for appointments with the pediatrician (a DO) who, after trying me on three different antibiotics, ordered a tonsillectomy. Not just ordered, she had to fight to get me one because this was at the point where researchers were finding that the efficacy might not be as high as once thought. Imagine, a scared little 7 year old who in pre-op just wanted to color in the coloring book a nurse or orderly had provided while some surgeon tried to convince her that she was in the OR for a squeaky foot (oh my parents’ embarrassment when I grumpily informed that surgeon that no, I was in there to have my tonsils removed now please leave me to color). This is probably why now I heavily research any medical procedure I am going to receive because I was basically told I’d get put to sleep (and oh how worried I was that they would do it intravenously) and wake up unable to talk. Now I want to know EXACTLY what anyone is going to do to me (ergo, I have never had my eye pressure tested because some ophthalmologist came at me with a tonometer once without explaining himself, and it looked like I was going to be jabbed in the eye, so I FLEW to the opposite side of the room). The point being, I was gassed to sleep and woke up with a numbness in my throat (thanks local anesthesia) and didn’t want to talk. I didn’t talk for a week because my throat hurt and the sutures (I am guessing) made my throat feel scratchy. But, within a month I felt normal again, my main side effect being that I missed a lot of school (I must have missed a lot of days that fell on computer day because I had a persistent struggle with computer class and especially typing until middle school), so my teacher decided I didn’t need to go to the nurse anymore because I was “behind” in my work (except that I wasn’t at all, and did whatever banal homework a 1st grade teacher assigns in 1998 while I was out for a week for recovery). The main side effect is that the only time since my surgery that I’ve had strep was in 2007. It had actually been so long since I had had strep, that while I felt cold and ill all day, I didn’t recognize the signs until I got home from school and was on the floor crying because I was in so much pain. In conclusion, recovery stinks. It’s not all “you get to eat only ice cream for… Read more »
John Adlington
March 8, 2016 3:44 pm

I had a tonsillectomy along with removal of the uvula to ease my snoring which helped for a while but for some time now I have felt like there is something in the back of my throat, thinking it was food, I tried to get it to move. My gp referred me to ENT where my nose was scoped and was told I have a lump of tissue (skin) between my nose and throat and could be as a result of the tonsillectomy. I am having an mri scan to determine whether there are blood vessels to it or not, followed by a biopsy. Has anyone else experienced this.

June 1, 2016 8:52 am

I had a tonsillectomy last year. Since then I constantly feel like there is something in my throat.. I have to clear it.. Almost as if it was phlegm.. Nothing ever comes up but all the time it feels like there’s something there. It’s driving me insane and I feel like I’m off my head when I tell people about it.

June 9, 2016 8:34 pm

OMG so it’s not just me haha I had mine out November last year an still now in June I feel like there is constantly something stuck in my throat like a bit of food or something it’s only on the left side the doctor had a look an found nothing but it seriously drives me bonkers

September 20, 2016 9:54 am

At 64 I had my left tonsil removed in June 2016 because it was enlarged, and a sign of cancer when only 1 tonsil is enlarged. Thankfully it was NOT, but I’ve had the same filling in my mouth. It started after I was able to yawn about a month after surgery. I had my MD look at it, but he said it looks good. When I open my mouth real wide, or if I yawn I feel this pulling sensation on that left side where my tonsil was. I have major problems with acid reflux, and wonder if I have a few things going on. I too feel like there is something in my throat.