Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips -Greg’s Top

Top 10 Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips

Though I’ve added to the initial 10, these are my top tonsillectomy tips for anyone preparing for, or recovering from tonsillectomy surgery:

Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips

Greg’s Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips

  •  Drink cold fluids
  • Continue to drink cold fluids
  • Drink more cold fluids! This is perhaps the single most important tip to make life easier while speeding up your recovery period.
  • Get a good cool air humidifier and run it all the time in the room you’re in.  Consider having more than one for the primary rooms you’ll be spending time in.
  • Don’t worry about sleep. Forget the normal time convention. Sleep for short intervals, preferably in a recliner. Sleep can be your worst enemy. Sleeping a few hours in a bed usually results in a dry throat that hurts like crazy. It can take almost an hour to get the pain back under control.
  • Keep a written log of your medications as you take them. It’s easy to forget what you’ve taken and when. If you would have problems that require help from the doctor, it can come in handy.
  • Read about others’ experiences and share your own. (Check out the tonsillectomy surgery forum)
  • Plan ahead! Stock up on items you’ll need ahead of time for your tonsillectomy recovery.
  • Take something with your pain medicine. Carnation Instant Breakfast or Ensure will at least provide a base in your stomach and reduce nausea.
  • Drink ice cold liquids!

A few bonus tips for better tonsillectomy recovery time:

  •  Plan some minor events. Even a simple event like a walk or a bath can take your mind off the discomfort and help your mindset during tonsillectomy recovery
  • Chew sugarless gum. When pain gets referred to the ears, and it often does, chewing gum can ease the ear pain. It also keeps the swallowing process active, which many believe aids in tonsillectomy recovery. A warm compress on the area can also relieve ear pain.
  •  Ice! Whether it’s a high-tech ice bag or a bag of frozen peas, applying ice directly to the throat and neck is a great way to reduce inflammation and take the edge off of break-through pain. (thanks Kate!)
  • Those are my top tonsillectomy tips. For a detailed daily checklist, check out my upcoming book.

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 Recovery General Store.

Some Extra Tips – After Tonsils are removed:

  • It’s REALLY important that you drink. I know it’s almost impossible at times, but you must. A trick I used was to use Cloraseptic (sp?) numbing spray. (There’s also a lollipop your doc or pharmacist might know of)- to numb the throat a bit. Then I’d take the medicine. Once the meds kicked in (1/2 hour?), then I’d try to eat. My favorite foods at first were Jell-o and creamed soups. (sweet potato or broccoli by V-8 were good)
  • You must keep drinking it helps your throat heal and keeps you hydrated. One gal, a nurse, said she went to an emergency room and demanded IV fluids. Wow! Maybe not such a bad idea!

-Greg Tooke 

45 thoughts on “Tonsillectomy Recovery Tips -Greg’s Top”

  1. Hello. 27 year old rachel from Washington here. I had my tonsils and adenoids removed 5 days ago. I, like most of you did a bunch of research and kind of freaked myself out. I figured after growing up with constant strep throat and ear infections that the pain from surgery wouldn’t be much more than I could handle. But then after reading every ones horror stories I really started freaking out. Well im on day 6 of recovery and while I can sympathize with many who are in pain. I wish I wouldn’t have worked myself up over all of this. yes im in pain.. but nothing that compares to the many agonizing days of pain when I had strep throat. Maybe im lucky because I don’t have any issue of nausea with the pain meds or anesthesia.. I have just kept myself on a 3 hour pain med schedule. I set an alarm and take meds every 3 hours. even if im sleeping.. I think the worst part of all of this has been how swollen my uvula is. It’s seriously annoying.. makes it kind of difficult to breathe. I was able to have 2 glasses of aspple juice and two snack packs right after surgery. Been mostly on a soup/liquid diet but have managed to eat a few freshly baked scones that were still soft and warm with some water. I cant imagine how hard for some this may be. I couldn’t imagine having to throw up. So I guess im one of the lucky ones so far. Good luck to everyone. My piece of advice- read up and be prepared but try not to freak yourself out- mind over matter!!

  2. hey… 27yr old female Australia
    im on day 7 of having an tonsillectomy and i dont understand how my surgeon could expect me (or anyone) to go straight bak to ur normal diet from day 1!!! i understand it will help with the healing process but i tried my best but i couldnt get anything down…. i can barely get water down which is a sever, grab something tight moment when i try n get some down!

    Night of Day 5 goin into Day 6 was prob my worst…. i woke up with the taste of blood so i spat it out n then it just continued to come out for mayb 2-3 mins – it was dark red…. i was sooo worried i was looking up websites to see if i needed to go to hospital… it stopped so i went bak to sleep… last night it started to do it again but only sorta two spits of dark blood n then stopped… so i dont know wats happened there im assuming scabs have fallen off…

    im still trying not to talk so i dont aggrivate anything – i knew it was going to b painful but not this bad….

    my tip would b have multiple ice packs… very handy for when the ears and under the jawline starts to hurt….

    I know in the end this will b for the best – i can not wait to never have tonsilitis again so going through this i will just need to tough it out….!!!!

  3. My one tip: Buy a child’s toothbrush, it’s much easier considering it’s hard to open your mouth that wide the week after surgery

  4. I am starting to freak out! I am having my tonsils out on November 21st and all of the horror stories have let my imagination run wild. I am trying to go into it with a game plan and positive attitude. I am 30 years old. Does anyone have any experience with a good pain med that does not create as much nausea? My doctor is wanting to prescribe me liquid vicoden and I have always gotten sick from it in the past.

    1. No tips, but I’m here to say I just got mine out too! It’s been 5 days, but they say day 7 and 8 are the worst. I haven’t been through any real pain yet. I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t come to that!

    2. Hey,

      I’m day 6 and finally starting to feel human again. I was disappointed with the information provided before surgery and was no where near ready for the after affects. The most pain came from drinking, the first sip of water was such a shock I was expecting relief I suppose but instead the intense stinging and burning was horrible. That said, the goal is to keep the throat moist, I found drinking difficult but slowly sucking on lemonade icy poles was my saviour. It sort of melts in your mouth and just slides down without as much muscle action. I’ve gone through about 10 boxes so far. Another tip that has changed my recovery entirely, take medications orally as normal. I was prescribed suppositories and they worked well until I could no longer physically use them as they caused the same if not more pain down there. Get rid of the liquid foul tasting make me want to vomit stuff, take tablets! One quick swallow and your done. Have an icy pole to numb first. I swapped to oral two days ago and can say that I am 80% back to normal since. I’ve been waiting for things to get worse again, as it’s day ) and they say 7 is the worst. But so far so good. I’ve been going about daily life fairly normally (minus work) I go shopping and have short visits with friends. Fresh air is amazing and seeing friends lifts my spirits. Stay strong, pain is temporary!!!

  5. I had a tonsillectomy as well as UVPPP to trim the uvula, septoplasty to straighten the nose and turbinoplasty to remove turbinates from the nose yesterday morning around 11am (took 2 hours). I woked up in the recovery room coughing blood but was under control in under a few minutes. Was still affected by the anaesthetic for the next 4 hours so wasnt in too much pain. Even when I had some jello around 5pm it was ok didnt hurt too much to swallow. I also hate icecream, juice, ice popsicle, and custard. Avoided the yoghurt because of the small fruit pieces and mineral water for fear of its acidic contents. Didnt need to take any strong painkillers other than 2 paracetomols(Panadol) every 4 hours. I found it hard to pee though as urine was blocked I suspect from the anaesthetic. Stayed in the ward overnight and today Saturday morning discharged at 10am.

    So on my first day of recovery now so far its been ok. I can say the pain is no worse than a sore dry throat you get from any sore throat but hoping it doesnt get any worse than this which Im worried will happen since everyone is saying it will get worse from day 4 onwards? I think I made it worse by eating some cooled down scrambled eggs in the afternoon because I’m already tired of eating jelly and gooey food and wanted some protein and thought that scrambled eggs was soft enough to take. I ate the whole thing and noticed my sore throat getting worse. So am back to the soft gooey food for now..

  6. I had my tonsils out Monday morning. I have not had any intense pain yet. Mostly my throat looks horrible and the wound on 1 side is deep. Even so, I’m still taking pain meds about every 8 hours. I had some lean cuisine pizza today with no problems. We’ll see what the rest of the week holds. I’m drinking about 3 liters of fluid a day.

  7. Hi. I am 40 years old and had my surgery on Friday, so I am on day 2 I guess. I am in more pain than I thought possible. I am having to sleep upright in my recliner because every time I lean back even a little I feel like my airway is being closed off. My doc said it was the swollen uvula. I also feel like I have drainage running down the back of my throat all the time, almost like I have a cold. Is this normal? I do have chronic pain due to other health issues so I am on stronger pain meds than most (in addition to the meds for the throat). My issue is that I have not found a pain med that actually works except things they give in the hospital. I am praying for a quick recovery because I don’t think I can handle all this extra pain. Requesting prayers from you all. Thanks and have a great Sunday!

  8. Hey greg, I found that waffles feel amazing! Just toast them butter them down and then microwave them to make them soft. It not only gives flavor, buts it’s also a change from liquid. I just had my surgery on oct. 15th and as long as I keep an ice pack and waTeresa and pain meds I’m fine. I just hope these next few days go this well. Any other tips? I have the numbing spray for my tongue which is probaly the worst pain I’ve had since the ssurgery.

  9. I have a tonsillectomy scheduled for tomorrow and i have been reading every website and every comment from people who went through the recovery and i am TERRIFIED!! I always thought I was a pretty tough chic…3 kids via natural child birth and I am a goalie in a womens hockey league and have a high tolerance for pain, but this pain sounds worse than anything I could imagine. It seems that the best avenue for quicker recovery is drink drink drink all day and night. Sleep reclined. Get a cool mist humidifier. Ice the area as much as you can. I am giving myself 2 weeks to heal does that sound like it is doable?? Even that seems like forever for someone who hates to stop moving and has 3 kids. Any and all advice welcome … I want to cancel the surgery but in the end I know that no more tonsillitis, strep, tonsil stones and abscesses out ways the recovery time for a tonsillectomy.

    1. I am in my early 40s and had my tonsillectomy (actually a UVPPP to treat sleep apnea) on 10/4. These tips above were extremely helpful. Everyone is different, but I was back at work on day 12 and off pain meds. No matter how much it hurt, I kept drinking fluids and sucking on ice chips and popsicles during those first few days. As posted here and on other sites, sleeping is the most challenging. Do not try and be tough. Keep on a religious schedule with the pain meds. Also thoroughly clean your place and stock up on all your supplies before surgery. Being comfortable and having everything ready helped. Good luck!

  10. My Daughter is on to her day 6 after her op ,She is still getting a lot of pain in her ears is this normal .She isn’t talking much do you think her throat will take longer to heal if she isn’t talking

  11. My co-worker and your friend Dawn recommended your site for my review prior to my tonsillectomy on 10/10. I am in the process of preparing my post surgery menu that my husband can then easily execute while I am recovering. I had all of the usual meal suspects on my list like popsicles, smoothies and frozen protein shakes. However, I had the idea of making some homemade pureed (baby food) foods. I like pureed parsnips and cauliflower and so on which I can usually get to a very smooth texture. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this since you know what textures were most delicate on your throat post-op.

    Thank you for creating this site! It is very helpful to us pre-op folks.

    1. Hi Melissa, and welcome to the site! First of all, you are much smarter than I was, to be preparing this way. I can tell already that you will fare better than I did. Puree’s are a great idea, as are popsicles. In both cases, avoid anything acidic. You’d be amazed by how many things burn after this surgery. Cauliflower gets the nod. I rarely eat parsnips, so I’m not sure. I really liked broccoli soup as well as sweet potato. Avoid the high-falutin’ popsicles with real juice. Opt instead for cheapo banana and root beer flavors. They are the best!

      Best of luck to you. Please stay in touch and say hello to Dawn!

    2. hey melissa.. i too have a tonsillectomy scheduled for Oct 10th. good luck to you!
      i hope with as much as i’ve read up on and much needed list of things i will be having by my bed side i will get over this surgery with out much of the severe pain everyone speaks of.

  12. Reply to Suzanne,

    Staying hydrated will keep the throat moist and will lessen the pain. I have had very little throat pain and I attribute that to staying hydrated. It is extremely important. Good luck to you.

  13. Thank you for your quick reply Greg regarding my sore tongue. I read the information and looked at the picture of a tongue with oral thrush. My tongue looks perfectly normal, absolutely pink and no white spots. I am assuming that this symptom is always present in cases of thrush. Please let me know if oral thrush can be present without the coating on the tongue.

    1. Thanks so much Sharon – i believe you as I have seen it enough but what is the importance of staying hydrated as I do not recall my daughter drinking alot. But then again you and I are mear the same age – She was 14 Anymore helpful tips greatly appreciated/

  14. This website and recovery blog has been a godsend! I am 57 years old and had my tonsillectomy on Sept.24. IT has been one week and I believe that following the tips in this website saved me from a lot of suffering. The most important tip is STAY HYDRATED. Drink Drink Drink water all day and whenever awake during the night and use a humidifier. My recovery has gone quite well. Just one issue that I continue to have….tongue pain! What’s up with that? What causes it? When can I expect relief? The tongue is pink, no white spots, somewhat swollen. I have been using a tongue scraper (gently) twice a day. Any tips? This has been my biggest problem.

    1. Your reply helped alot and the kindness you showed in doing so is greatly appreciated. I am 2 yrs older so any tips you have PLEASE pass them on

  15. Hello- I am a 44 year old woman and have moderate Sleep Apnea…oh and I also snore like a drunken 500 pound gorilla. I have been trying different things over the years to help reduce the snoring and treat the apnea. I tried CPAP and hated it! The last two times I used it, I swallowed so much air that I ended up looking 7 months pregnant. I also had my turbinates reduced in the spring. This relatively minor procedure seemed to help with snoring and apnea but when I am sick or its ragweed season I go back to loud snoring and awful apnea episodes where I wake up gasping. Yesterday, I went to my Doctor who is recommending that I have the Blue plate special…. SMR (turbinate surgery), fix nasal septum, UPPP and tonsilectomy. I am terrified but feel like its the right thing to do. Any advice would be helpful. Am I crazy to do all of these procedures at once? Is it worth it?

    1. I had a tonsillectomy done about 4 years ago, and just had the SMR turbinate reduction and septoplasty this spring.

      The tonsillectomy recovery was, quite honestly, hellish. It was about 10 days of pain and opiate fog filled with bad movies, hunger, and of course a sore throat. But I went from 12 strep infections in 15 weeks to 2 in 4 years. I also had a jerk anesthesiologist who gave me gas with a paralytic without warning me ahead of time or explaining anything about it.

      The septoplasty and SMR surgery was EASY. I was back to school in 6 days. The first day I was just out of it. The second and third, I kept up my vicodin schedule, but really had very little pain. The biggest hassle was feeling tired and drained from the opiates and the anesthesia. I think I only took vicodin for 3-4 days.
      The septoplasty & SMR all but eliminated my sinus infections (an overdue root canal seems to have finished them off).

      The only thing I can think of that would be a problem with doing all of that is this is breathing. When I had my tonsillectomy, I had a lot of difficulty breathing without gagging because of all the swelling in my throat. When I had the septoplasty, I had plastic splints up my nose (big, very thick-walled tubes) but couldn’t really breathe out them. You’d only be able to breathe through your mouth – but if you need the SMR/septoplasty, you probably have a hard time breathing through your nose anyway.

      I’m not familiar with a UPPP (upper palate…??), so I can’t speak to that, but I will say that I wish I had let the Dr. who did my tonsillectomy do the turbinate/SMR and especially wish I had let him trim my uvula because it actually got permanently bigger from all the strep infections. The main reason I wish I had it done was 1) The turbinate/SMR recovery is nothing compared to the tonsillectomy and 2) It would have saved me 4 years of frequent sinus infections and another round of anesthesia.

      My advice is: If the Dr. is really sure you would benefit from all of these procedures, get it all done, bite the bullet, and ride out one unpleasant experience. It’s worth it.

      Whatever you decide, people here can chime in with helpful advice!

        1. Greg – thanks so much for your kindnesss as I almost cried – getting at that sentimental age – LOL but please please keep in touch as no one else has. You are a kind, great man and God Bless

  16. Hi Greg, I had my tocillectomy done yesterday & after the anesthetic cleared my system I feel fine in myself. Throat is very painful – to even swallow water is a challenge but I know I’ve just got to plod on.

    I’m finding that cold yoghurt & luke warm soups have been the best for me so far although I would suggest to avoid any soups that are thick or with bits in. I tried some pea & ham soup last night & really struggled with the thickness & small strips of meat, had to water it down with milk.

    I would also suggest porridge is a great meal for breakfast, although its not to everyone’s taste, the texture was very soothing for my throat & lubricated it for a short while.

    Can anyone suggest what to gargle with after meals? My surgeon just said to gargle but didn’t suggest with salt water or mouthwash..are you supposed to avoid this & just use water?

    Thanks for your tips – I will be referring to them during recovery.

    Best wishes,
    Samantha

    1. You will need to avoid creating thick saliva, so I recommend that you steer well clear of any dairy products.
      Also, you mentioned that you had small difficulty with meat products, so another great option you can take without hurting your throat is to buy some natural hemp powder and mix it with water.
      Plant based proteins get absorbed faster and are much much better for you than animal based proteins.
      I am Vegan, and here is what I take everyday ( I had my tonsils done on the 20th of this month ):
      B/fast – Porridge with Almond milk, 100g baby spinach blended with water and vit C supplement ( Berocca ).
      Lunch – 1 pint of sparkling water, 30g hemp protein, half a mango.
      Dinner – 1 pint sparkling water, vegetable medley ( broccoli, sweet potato, carrot, swede, turnip ).
      Evening meal – 1 pint sparkling water, 30g hemp protein, 2 slices of wholemeal toast with soya spread.

      Note: I always shake the bottle of sparkling water to release most of the gas. I dis-like plain water so I take semi flat sparkling water instead. It fools my brain into thinking I’m drinking diet soda 🙂
      I am also gargling with salt & water solution, I am also using a non-alcoholic based mouthwash.

      I recommend you use Difflam first thing in the morning, then take your pain killers. Wait 15mins and then you can use mouthwash and brush your teeth to your hearts content 🙂 Hope it all goes well for you. I am feeling pretty good, the pain is very low and I’m healing much faster than what other people are reporting in their blogs.

    2. Welcome Samantha! Glad you’re doing ok. I stuck with water for gargling, but I don’t see why a little salt water would hurt? Mouthwash would probably burn. I’d avoid it. Best of luck to you!

  17. I am scheduled to have a tonsillectomy exactly one month from now, and I’m super nervous. One of my co-workers said her ears were the worst pain; worse than child birth. I will take all of your tips in consideration! Thank you guys, and take care.

    1. Hey Daynelle, its only normal to be nervous. I am 53 and just had my surgery on July 8 and as scared and nervous as I was it has turned out to be the BEST thing I ever did. Yes your ears will hurt but I don’t know about comparing that to being worse than child birth. Most importantly stay on schedule with your meds, I slacked off early on and it is harder to catch up then. Bookmark Gregs website and check it daily along your progress. He has a section just for that, your recovery day by day. I found it to be a huge comfort along the way to see others comments about them feeling pretty much as I was feeling. Good luck to you!

      1. Maureen,

        Thank you! I been having mixed feelings about my upcoming surgery, but I know it needs to be done. My tonsils have been giving me problems since I was a kid (I’m now 30), and I can’t wait until they are gone! I’m just nervous about my recovery. I think if I keep up with this website, I will be prepared. Thanks again

  18. I would urge anyone reading this, to get fully checked out before surgery.
    What do I mean exactly? Well, get your bloods done. Check for platelet count, iron and also check to see if you have any past history of bleeding in your family ( eg, did your mom have trouble with losing blood during any child labour? ).

    I bled out a lot during my surgery on Friday (20th sept 13 for my tonsils ) and they are now sending me for a blast of blood testing, including a von willebrand screening. They reckon my blood doesnt clot as fast as normal blood.
    Get yourself pre-checked for surgery to avoid any complications. This will ultimately lead you to recover much faster and tackle any surgical errors should they arise.
    If you’ve never been under the knife, this pre-check will save you lots of worry and you’ll know you are a suitable candidate for good surgery with a quick recovery.

    Pre-surgical checks are vital and I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. I’ve lost lots of blood and feel horrible, which is making my recovery that much harder. Also, I would avoid any septoplasty surgery. The septum is very weak, and even after a year now, if I even try to clean my nose, my septum sometimes tears away from the center of my nose. This may have to do with my blood disorder, but in general, problems with your septum are most usually cosmetic and dont block airflow. If it aint broke, dont fix it.

  19. Gosh…I have upcoming 3 surgeries this coming Oct 24, one is tonsillectomy , number 2 is myringotomy and 3 is septoplasty ALL AT THE SAME TIME …..I’ve read all your comments and updates on tonsillectomy alone …I am scared to death now to do it…any suggestion maybe I will just do the tonsillectomy after my 2 other surgeries are healed.

    1. Hey Greg, just wanted to throw my thoughts into the mix. For me the ice cream thing was highly overrated, for me it was hard to eat, I think I found it too rich. But one of my best friends brought over a couple of cartons of raspberry sorbet for me and that was awesome going down my throat. I would just let it sit out say 20 minutes or so to soften up and it tasted so good and like goldilocks it was just right. I found popsicles too cold are hard to eat and as I said the ice cream was too rich so sorbet it was for me. Also I enjoyed apple juice, and cheese omelets. Good luck to everyone out there!

  20. Hi Greg! These look great and are definitely very helpful for anyone facing a tonsillectomy. I would just add that ice packs on the neck are a life saver! I got a couple large flexible clay-filled ones and swapped them out for each other–whether it was first thing in the morning or the middle of the night, they really helped keep the pain manageable.

Your Thoughts?