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 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 Recovery

Tonsillectomy Recovery

Greg Tooke

40 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Side Effects

  1. Shelley

    First of all I am no expert, but I am 46 years old and had a tonsillectomy 2 years ago. My experience they told me was occasional as well. I had the surgery because my tonsils were so infected that I choked on food and got bronchitis constantly. After my surgery my throat wasn’t sore but I couldn’t swallow even liquids without it shooting back out and choking me. This went on for 6 weeks. Because I just kept waiting it out, and absolutely nothing was going down, I ended up at the ER getting iv fluids for severe dehydration. After that things started looking upward and I continued to get better but in the meantime my voice wasn’t normal nor was my hearing. It took 6 months for everything to return to normal. Like I said I am no expert and definitely no doctor but my advice is don’t panic and as long as you are able to eat and drink well,keep your doctor informed and just be patient. As I learned children are resilient but we older ones take a lot more time to heal fully. Take care. –shelley

  2. Laurel Boyd

    I have a 60 year old friend, who had a tonsillectomy September 19, 2014. She feels find now, but is having trouble speaking. She sounds like a deaf person that has learned to speak, and her voice is very high, kind of like she inhaled helium. She was told this happens occasionally, and to do some exercises for the uvula and if all else fails, she will have to start speech therapy. This seems very odd to both of us, she a basically healthy person, just had this done because she was getting strep throat all the time. Any ideas, suggestions, did they mess up the surgery???

  3. shannon

    Hi my name Shannon i had a tonsilsectomy 8 days ago, in still struggling the pain is still bad, ive lost nearly a stone in weight as i couldn’t eat i was having still is about 4-6 spoonfuls a day. Anything cold i cant have no i managing to drink tea as anything warn does help.. But the thing in scared about is i have alot of pain in the to back of my middle head.. Just pain i wanna know isit normal to have pain in the head ? Its worrying me, i know in the long run this will be great but past 8 days i wish i was dead this been the worst thing in the world i feel so depressed, so vulnerable.. IM 22 and i just wanna know if this pain in the head normal ?


    1. Greg Tooke Post author

      Hi Shannon. Thanks for posting. Hope you feel better soon. It’s not uncommon to have what’s called referred pain in area other than the surgery site. Nerves connect different areas. Many folks get bad ear pain. It may be that. I’m no doctor though. If it continues, you may want to check with your doctor. Good luck!

  4. Samantha H.

    Hi, I’m looking for some helpful information. I had my tonsils out on July 22, 2014 at the age of 38 due to recurrent infections, swollen lymph nodes, red/swollen tonsils, pain when talking, headaches, fevers, difficulty swallowing due to swollen tonsils, recurrent throbbing pain in the tonsils (mostly present on the left side), but no sore throat. My last experience lasted about eight months while I continued to experience all of the complications listed above. I endured post op pain for about a month and now almost two months later I have a lingering feeling as if the area/tissue where my tonsils were is tight & numb but when it doesn’t feel numb it has begun to ache/throb like my tonsils did before surgery. Can you offer any insight? Will this ever go away? I don’t have any other symptoms of an infection. I think I may need a new evaluation/opinion from an ENT.

  5. Alondra

    I had a tonsilsectomy about 3 to 4 weeks healed from my throat but since my surgery everything That is SWEET tastes diferent to this normal or will I not be able to enjoy sweet food anymore

  6. Natalie

    I’m Natalie(12 years old) and I just came home after a surgary today. My throat is so sore I just want to die! And now I don’t want to talk cause it hurts! A lot! But now and then I try to drink something to fill my stomach cause swallowing food is to hard for me and if I swallow liquids I have to swallow twice cause it stays there. I wander if I’ll survive the week and the rest of the month(if it lasts that long). Please reply if you ever experienced these symtoms after a tonsillectomy and if you have any remadies for them please tell me! I need the help.

    1. Greg Tooke Post author

      Hi Natalie! I certainly have been through what you’re experience. You’re lucky, (I doubt you feel “lucky” right now;)), to be having this done at a younger age. Your recovery should be much easier than many of the older folks, Like me, on the site.

      I know it’s hard to swallow, but it’s really important to KEEP DRINKING LIQUIDS!

      A big part of the problem is probably a swollen uvula- that thing that hangs in the back of your throat like a punching bag. It will shrink back to normal soon- cold liquids can help reduce the swelling.

      Hang in there my dear. It’s tough, but it’s temporary. Take a look around this website- lots of tips.

  7. Juan Vasquez

    I am 38 and I just got my tonsils taken out on the 4th of March 2014. For the first 10 days atfter the surgery it was very painful. The medication made me Dizzie and now I feel that my taste buds have changed to the point that if something is sweet, I find it sweeter and if its salty I cant stand it. Anyways, compare to the infections I used to have I guess I am better the way I am now. I recommend the surgery but do know that it will be painfull for atleast 10-14 days.

  8. Brandon

    I just had mine out and I’m 42 yrs old. My Doc did them via lazer so no stiches, no coughing up blood and I’ve had tonsilitis that was worse than the entire recovery process. I took two weeks off because I heard it was much worse for old dudes like me, but I didn’t need pain meds after about a week and a half. Glad I got it done…

    Now I’m trying to find out that since the surgery, my nose runs non stop. Thought there may be some coinsidence, but don’t see any.

  9. als5216

    I am SO GLAD to see I am not the only one having these problems! I am 25 and had my tonsils out in April. It’s been two months and it still hurts when I yawn, I constantly have mucous. The mucous used to be terribly thick and would make me gag. The doctor is telling me it’s because of smoking, my sinuses, acid reflux. I smoke occasionally so I really don’t see that being the case. I’ve never had these issues until my tonsils were removed. My voice is also hoarse alot, more than before they were out! And I was a singer, well not since they were out! Ugh :( how long will this go on? I’m trying to stay positive but it’s hard!

  10. Dwight

    Have any of you with chronic problems or side effects tried to gargle like peroxide or warm salt water? Peroxide is an oral rinse agent but can also help break up and kill any mucus you have in the back of your mouth or throat. I honestly did the warm water way before I was suppose to like in days after my surgery because I hated the mucus but the long term effects have been great I breath better sleep better I can eat taste and have little to no sinus problems anymore. Just a thought at least it worked for me

  11. Wajih Ahmed Khan

    Holly shit!!! Aftr reading aforesaid comments i am not going for operation. Although my tonsils enlarge every month

    1. khum raj poudel

      oh, i have tonsil doctor bolraha hai operation karneke liya muje dar aata hai every month hota hai mai brofin n azethromisine tablet khake baitha hu kya opration 100% suxses hota plz tell me brother

  12. Sierra

    I am 15, I had my tonsils taken out January 4th 2013, so about 4 months ago. Well now I can not gargle at all! It has become a problem, because when you get a lot of mucus in your mouth you gargle it “up” then spit it out, well I can do that and it feels like my throat is clogged and it is scary! Can someone please please help! I have always been able to gargle until after the surgery. I am doing it just the same as I always have, but it is not working! Please help!

    1. Carol

      What method did your doctor use when taking out your tonsils? I am an adult so I knew that recovery would be longer but I am having similar problems. I had my tonsils out on Dec. 10th, 2012 through the laser method and I get that thick mucus in my throat that I can not seem to get out and choke on. I have also lost my appetite as nothing taste good and makes me nauseous. I was originally told that this would go away in 2 months but when it didn’t I called. They then told me it will take 6 months to fully recover. I really hope it does get better. As far as the choking feeling, I was also experiencing water going up my nose when I would drink from a water fountain. The nurse told me that it gets better but that you have to relearn the use of the pallet in your mouth because it is different from how it was before the surgery. I guess it is like a weak muscle that has to readjust.

  13. D Gordon

    I had my surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago. I can eat normally I can drink anything my smell is normal and I actually stopped taking drugs or medications after maybe a week and a half. I’ve started running again and I haven’t had any real setbacks. I gargled warm water maybe a few days into recovery to start the healing and promote the mucus coming out. So I’m not sure what’s going on with the taste smell things with people but I have none of those issues.

  14. marcy

    i have not noticed the loss of smell at all but a feeling of wanting to clear the throat always. i have 7 months since the surgery was done but i feel better than before

  15. Beth

    I had my tonsils removed on February 27 just 9 days ago and my surgery went very well. My Doctor (Dr. Winter at Lahey Clinic) was fabulous. She explained everything during my consult and made it very clear to me about how painful the recovery process would be. I finally decided to have them removed and 9 days later I am I feel good. It is very important to follow all the after surgery instructions to the T. Drink lots of fluids take your pain meds every 4-6 hours. While my throat is still sore I am able to manage very well and have already been able to reduce my pain meds to 3 times a day and have had no bleeding or other side effects. While you can’t make a decision based on other peoples experiences because eveyone is differen really take into account how you have recovered from any prior surgeries as well as how you respond to pain.

  16. Alisha

    I had my surgery on jan 16 and my biggest complaint is the pain it’s rough but I know that at some point it will be gone. I can agree with the lump in the back of my throat, when I swallow it just all goes left and right and I have to swallow twice for just one drink, and the taste is terrible and I don’t enjoy eating cuz nothing tastes normal:( but I hope mine comes back sooner than 6 mo to a year cuz it really sucks. I can’t wait to feel the benefits to the surgery cuz definitely after two weeks all you feel is regret. But I’m sure it will pass! Good luck everyone!

    1. bikay

      I made surgery last nov.20,2012 but untill im not feel better.I did taste the food,I visit to the doctor but they said it normal it will goes afer 3mnth im hoping.I will be ok..but my problemghing now is im suffering dry coughing and pain to my troat

  17. Maria Thompson

    I am so glad to hear all of your responses. I am 38 years old. I had my tonsils out in Nov 2012, it has been 2 and half months, and I still can’t taste or smell. I have a disgusting taste in my mouth no matter what I eat. It has a bitter hint. It is worse in the mornings and I also have all this mucus in my throat (gross). It is supposed to go to my nose but it feels like it goes straight into my throat. I was so scared and I have an apt to see the doctor today. I also have a feeling of dryness no matter how much I drink. Water taste bad too. I feel like my tongue doesn’t have enough room any more and it feels uncomfortable on the back of my throat. I feel like a have to swallow all the time and it makes my throat sore and irritated. its a weird sensation. I really hope this goes away because I feel like I can’t take it any more and it is making me really upset. If any one has anything else they can suggest please let me know. No one has mention the smell part but I lost that too. Has any one else lost their smell?

    1. Anonymous

      I have terrible taste in my mouth too and it’s i only been two weeks and one day and I thought it was from the oral Meds but I’m not sure and I’m scared it won’t ever come back. So I am wondering if yours has come back and what your doctor said about its. I’d really look forward to your reply if you or someone else can help. I don’t notice a change in smell at all.

    2. Anonymous

      i have all the same as you except the smell i can still smell I
      strong smells but the tastes is so bad it is 5weeks now for me can’t believe you are stillsufferi after all this time

    3. staticpine

      1) Was your uvula removed?
      2) Were your adenoids removed?
      3) Is your tongue coated with a thick white or yellowish white coating?

  18. Fancy

    My 4 years old son had tonsilectomy 2 to 3 months back. Now he has develop abscess on his throat. This abscess could be side effects for tonsilectomy. Please help I’m so worried

  19. Jessy S

    Ok so all these posts are really scaring me into not having this surgery done…HOWEVER what I am scared about is the whole feeling like something is there and food getting stuck feeling. Also the loss of taste what do you mean?

  20. Shelley

    No worries. They will come back. I had my surgery in Februrary 2012 it took 6 months but one day all of a sudden the bad taste will be gone and food will finally taste good again :)

    1. Carol

      This gives me hope! Thanks. It has been 4 months of torture and forcing myself to eat but knowing that there is hopefully only 2 more months of this helps me feel like there is an end. I was starting to worry that this would be permanent.

  21. Nelisa

    I had my opp in June 2012. My mouth taste is horrible especially in mornings, i cant take any sweet stuff but my doctor said it would take 3 months for the taste buds to come back and still no sign of them.

  22. Georgiann Hernandez

    I am 59… I had mine out jan 30,2012… I still feel like my throist closes up if i get dehydrated , my taste buds are barely coming back and food feels like it get stuck on both sides. i have heard it can take up to a year for an adult to feel normal again.

    1. J whitney

      Omg! Your post is exactly was i was searching hoping to find! Ugh……up to a yr?
      Thirsty, getting food stuck is the worst of it. I feel like the back of my throat is still a bit swollen as well. Hope these annoying set backs go away soon. 6/25/12 was my surgery date.

      1. Anonymous

        Chris carter, my op was 24/07/12 and it has been hell! It feels like a ridge has formed where the tonsils were and every swallow has to negociate this obstacle. Does anyone else feel like this?

  23. Greg Tooke Post author

    Hi Shelly,
    I had a similar experience. My ENT told me that the tissuescan indeed take a good six months to firm back up. I had a feeling like wqater might leak into my nose for a few months. My sense of taste was also disturbed for a good three months. It did get better though. I hope it does for you soon. Here’s an article I wrote about sense of taste after tonsillectomy:

  24. shelley

    I am 43,its been 2 months since my tonsilectomy,I still have what feels like something in the very back of my throat on both sides that food gets stuck on and a horrible taste to the point I cant taste other things and even water even tastes metallic. Does anyone know what might be wrong? My doctor just says an adult can take months or a year or more to recover. I don’t buy it,something is still there.

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