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 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.
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