Tonsillectomy Recovery Pain Medicine

Tonsillectomy Pain Management

I added the topic of tonsillectomy recovery pain medicine to the, “Before Tonsillectomy,” menu for a reason. The time to discuss pain management with your doctor is NOT at 3 a.m. on day six of your recovery when you’ve run out of pain medication. Sitting in your doctors office before surgery with a clear head, during his or her normal hours, is the time to have a rational discussion of your tonsillectomy pain medication. It’s also a good time to discuss other medications like anti- nausea drugs and steroidal anti inflammatory medication. I go into more detail in my book, but suffice it to say that pain management is best discussed in advance, in the light of day, with clear heads.


Tonsillectomy Recovery Pain
Tonsillectomy Pain Medicine


There is no one right answer to the question of how to address tonsillectomy recovery pain medicine. I recommend discussing expectations with your doctor before any prescription is written. Some doctors appreciate how painful a tonsillectomy recovery can be for an adult. Some do not. Having experienced it myself and read the accounts of thousands of tonsillectomy patients I can say with confidence that ten days is a pretty average length of time that pain management will be an issue after surgery. 

Tonsillectomy fire extinguisher text

If I had it to do over, I’d ask my doctor to write a prescription for a pain medicine without acetaminophen, (e.g. Tylenol), in it. Many common narcotic pain medications contain acetaminophen. Too much of the stuff can be quite dangerous. A problem arises when one tries to ween off the narcotic pain medicine and switch to simple acetaminophen. If there’s breakthrough pain, taking another drug that ALSO contains it can be dangerous. If the two are separate, the patient can alternate as needed. Ask your doctor.

In my book I also discuss some of the effects of taking narcotic pain medicine for several days- not as a doctor, but as a patient who experienced it. I wouldn’t face the surgery without these medicines, but a little knowledge could have helped me cope better.

Tonsillectomy pain medicine isn’t always chemical. Drinking cold ice water, chewing gum, or applying ice to the throat can also help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with tonsillectomy surgery. Many patients also get short term relief from throat sprays like Chloraseptic.

In short, I recommend being your own advocate in your pain management. Be straight forward and honest with your doctor and ask for a second opinion if you feel your doctor is not addressing your concerns.After your tonsillectomy, don’t be afraid to contact your Doctor’s office with questions or concerns about your tonsillectomy recovery pain medicine.


Tonsillectomy Recovery
Tonsillectomy Recovery


  1. Hindsight is 20/20 so here are my medication recommendations for people Pre-op since i’m now Post-op.
    Make sure to get liquid forms of your pain meds if possible. I ended up with liquid lortab with acetaminophen and liquid ibprophen. I stagger these every 2 hours and NEVER miss a dose…right now is not the time to see how much pain I can handle. I also recommend getting a nausea patch prescribed (like people get for cruises). They put it on me the day of surgery and it lasts 3 days. I was prescribed a dissolving nausea tablet as well and have only used it twice because the patch works so well
    My doctor called in a prescription for more of the nausea patches. Finally, I
    recommend getting a steroid prescribed pre-op because it will help your uvula to not swell as much…and trust me, it will swell.
    This online forum was crucial for my surgery prep so I just wanted to share some insights for others.

  2. My tonsillectomy is this coming Monday and I wondered SPECIFICALLY what prescribed medications will aid me the most in my recovery. I am very worried about naseua after the surgery from all the pain mediciations, especially about throwing up after surgery.
    Thank you so much in advance for the help and thanks for creating this great resource. This website has been invaluable in my preparation for surgery.

    1. Hi Liz- I would ask your doctor for an anti-nausea drug. I took promethezine(sp?) and it helped. Also making sure to take in some food with your meds will help. Best of luck to you my dear!

    2. I had my surgery yesterday at 215 and am on hydrocodone for pain..they gave me pills which I cannot swollow so I smash them up and it helps for about 3.5 hours n I drunk ice cold water n chew gum…i am going into day 2 of recovery tomorrow…so far things have been ok..i force myself to eat soft foods like pudding and mashed potatoes…homemade Mac n cheese…cold apple sauce…apple juice and I ice my throat for the swelling…i didn’t have any nausea after surgery at all…i got meds in my iv for pain fenanol er somethin like that and they have me nausea something that number my entire throat…my surgeon gave me 60 pain pills…he was a good surgeon…im nervous for the nxt few days of recovery but honestly ice water constantly is the key…all day and all night…keep ur throat moist and eat what u can as soon as u can…my ears hurt more than anything atm

  3. Hello – If anybody can give me any advice on the pain medication I would appreciate it. My surgery is next week, my doctor said he will prescribe me liquid Vicodin. Doing the math, I don’t see how a person can take the max amount daily and be still be covered all day long. It seems like after 12 hours a day you’ll hit the maximum Vicodin allowed because of the acetaminophen. So what am I supposed to do all night!? :-/

    What is a good pain medication I could ask for, that does not contain acetaminophen?


    1. BINGO! You are right on with this. I finally got a prescrip. for oxycodone without Tylenol. It was better for me all around- less anusea and no Tylenol worries- I could wean off it and transition to Tylenol

  4. Day 5 now I haven’t spoken at all today had toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast until I took 1 bite and it shot down my jaw to my ear put me off the whole thing, I have hardly drank anything the holes at the back now are filling with white stuff yuck makes me gag! Not to mention the itches I get deep in the holes makes me feel as if something is running around up there ….. Saliva is thick and I tell you what I have had sore throats every other week for past year and before that every 3-4 weeks even to the extent the infection from my throat run down my ear and busted my ear drum only 2 weeks ago I suffered a nose infection caused by my throat .. I have suffered with them but not doi once Ferber feeling howi do now this pain is a 9 on a 10 scale I’m on diclaflanc every 8 hours and paracetamol every 4 helps but now the pain has increased it don’t do so much for me I’m waking up a lot through the night checking the clock to see when I can next pop some more pills!!! Humidifier is on all night so I don’t no if it works because i have not been without it. I want to call my doctors now to get something stronger but today I have not spoken once and don’t intend to tramadol just makes my heart race and I have palpitations with them so I need something else I wish I never bothered I swear to god! I’m 24 by the way I just don’t no what else to do my partner goes back to work Monday and ill have my 2 year old back I can hardly get out of bed or speak ;(

  5. Love Percocet! 47 YO male here on day 6 post op. Feeling great! I was originally prescribed 20ml LORTAB (Vicodin) 7.5 liquid every 4 hours. Worked OK for pain, but not well enough to allow me to sleep longer than 1 hour at a time. 4 nights of that was enough. On day 5, I finally asked the DR for something that would let me sleep. Wife picked up the Endocet 7.5-325mg (Percocet) from pharmacy and after first dose I was able to sleep for 4 hours straight! Finally felt like I had turned the corner and today I feel awesome. Cut my dosage in half and spread it out to every 6 hours. Heading back to work tomorrow. I followed all the advice on this forum regarding hydration, prep, foods, etc. so thanks to all who post. To me, the single biggest thing is the meds and the ability to eat prior to taking them to avoid nausea.

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