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. I got my tonsils out august first, which makes today day 8. The amount of medicine I’ve been taking is no way good for my liver, but the pain has gotten so bad that I’ll cry, and scream which only hurts more. I wake up in the night and feel like I’m dying, actually I’d prefer if I would die so this pain would vanish. I’m nearly out of meds, I have a dosage of children’s ibuprofen (which I shouldn’t even be taking because I’m 16, but I’m running out of options here!) and a dosage of Motrin for adults. Both are pretty weak compared to the searing pain in my throat and ears. I had a liquid oxy type thing at the beginning but I’m already out of that too. I can’t get a refill for another three days and at 2 am (two nights in a row) I was begging to be brought to the hospital just to be told I couldn’t go because they couldn’t do anything for me.

    This is the absolute worst pain of my life, and my family is running out of money to provide me with even the weak children’s stuff.
    I’m not sure how I’m going to survive, i can’t eat or sleep.
    I was told I would be glad I got this surgery when I’m done healing but I find that hard to believe.
    Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is worth this pain.

  2. Hello all, I had my tonsils removed yesterday and I just felt like sharing my story. I had to get them removed because of high protein in urine and the sinus specialist noted that I have chronic tonsillitis which I didn’t know about, I’m a 25-year old mother of two. My doctor prescribed me Xanax to take prior to the surgery and I was so glad because I wasn’t scared at all and everyone in the operating room commented how brave I was lol. They told me to come on an empty stomach and not drink anything and they took me for surgery around 11 a.m. They only did local anesthesia with the scariest looking long needles I have every seen but the Xanax helped me not to panic and they gave me a bowl to spit out the blood. They hacked away with a scalpel and then pulled them out with a strange looking tonsil instrument, that was the most uncomfortable part. When they took them out they said they’re going to use my tonsils as specimen for chronic tonsillitis because they looked terrible. After they stitched me up they gave me a cold pack to put around my neck. From there they gave me an I.V. in my post-op room and I was very thirsty but they wouldn’t give me any water because I had developed some type of infection and I refused to swallow my own spit so the nurse yelled at me and told me that I would end up on the operating table if I didn’t swallow my own spit. I still didn’t swallow my spit, they gave me some antibiotics intravenously. They came back around 6 P.M. with a cup of water and told me to drink it, maaaaan this first sip of water was the most excruciating pain I have EVER felt!!! and I had two natural births, they told me that the stitches were coagulating? I don’t have a clue what that means but I DO know it is hella painful. Second day they let me go at 8 am after briefing me to have a liquid diet they served me a breakfast of toast,,, really???,, needless to say I have yet to try solids,,,, I was the first one to leave and they didn’t give me any pain meds but they gave me antibiotics for the coagulation….. I’m just switching off on ibuprofen and paracetamol. I tried to find a forum to comfort myself about recovery process and finding this page did NOT help. I’ve been reading about people day 13 and in pain, I have two spirited boys one is two and the other one is three and I don’t know how I’m going to go half a month with this type of pain.. it’s a burning pain whenever I swallow…help pls…

    1. I just got my tonsils and adenoids out yesterday and I am having the same problem with swallowing my spit. When I first got home from the hospital
      I was gone because the meds they gave me there hadn’t fully worn off. I woke up about 3 am feeling as if I was choking on my spit. I was prescribed hydrocodone but all it’s really doing for me is putting me to sleep, it has not helped with my pain at all. How did you cope with swallowing spit and liquids. I need help. I don’t want to end up back in the hospital…

  3. I’m on Day 10 post op and have had excruciating pain throughout my recovery. Now that the scabs are healing I usually do okay during the day, but as evening and night roll around the pain is almost unmanageable. I’ve been taking the max recommended dose of ibuprofen to keep up with it all since my liquid hydrocodone ran out on Day 5. My doctor would not prescribe me any more even though I was in agony. I was given a 250 hydroco/apap solution 7.5-325, so about 10 mL every 4-6 hours. Is this about normal or should I complain to my doctor that the pain management he has limited me to is unreasonable? The ibuprofen doesn’t help a whole lot and I can’t sleep because of the pain. I’m absolutely exhausted and just want relief!

    1. Hi Chelsea, sorry to hear of your trouble. Doctors have the government breathing down their backs over the opioid epidemic, that’s why he’s reluctant to give you more opiate pain meds (5 days is nowhere near enough, except to the government whom, last I looked, didn’t have surgery). Since your primary problem is getting to sleep, what you need is something to numb your throat long enough to get to sleep.

      I had my right tonsil removed in 2013 because of cancer. After the surgery (which was far more than just a tonsilectomy) I had radiation treatments. During treatment it’s normal to prescribe a variety of painkillers, some of which are specifically for radiation’s effects. I was given this stuff called Magic Mouthwash, which is a compound of Maalox, lidocaine and Benedryl liquids. It numbs your throat up for up to a few hours. Most pharmacies can mix the stuff for you, but is prescription. It’s also nonnarcotic, and might just cover you for getting to sleep as you get through recovery. You probably won’t need much beyond a shot glass of it before you hit the sack. Run it by your MD and give it a whirl. What’s the worst that can happen?

      One more caveat with this stuff….you won’t be able to eat or drink after taking it most likely. Its pretty powerful, and will mess with swallowing. That’s not an issue for cancer patients (who get gastric tubes as you can’t eat for months after treatmen).

    2. Hi All/Chelsey-

      I had tonsillectomy procedure on the 1st @11am (post day 4.5). At 29 I am a veteran to surgeries, this is my sixth, (wisdom teeth/ deviated septum X2/ appendicitis/ R.Shoulder). I have a relatively low pain tolerance & very high drug tolerance (have always needed extra anesthesia for my surgeries & extra pain medication in recovery). When I awoke from surgery in the post op I was given a 2mg diluad (as I was in pain) and had ice pops/ice chips. After 30-45min of no effect (heart rate monitor around 95 steady the whole time) they gave me another diluad. Coming on 2 hours in the recovery (heart rate unchanged/ still in pain) they sent me off with 2, 300mg 7.5/325 hydrocodoen/acep (15-20ml dose) scripts and an anti-inflammatory (2 day dose – 1 every 48hr). Headed straight to the pharmacy and then home I took my first dose of 20ml at around 2pm. I find hydrocodoen to be very weak and was expecting for this surgery at least 10mg pain meds. I ran thru my 300ml 3 day supply in a day & a half. I called the doctor the morning of the 3rd requesting stronger medication noting my pain concerns. He gave me another script for the 300ml 7.5/300 and I still had another to be picked up on the 4th. After returning to the pharmacy and all the insurance BS I was fortunate to get 60ml of the 300 (which I desperately needed as I had only 2 doses left and would not last the night) from the empathetic pharmacist. She held the remaining 240 which I picked up the following day (4th). And I just picked up my remaining 300ml this morning. For your question of compliant… hell yeah. I was taking 20ml every 3-4 hours and getting anywhere from 1-4 hours sleep thus far per night. I have went thru 690ml of 7.5/325 in 84 hours since surgery. I have my follow up tommorw 9/6/17 & am sitting on 270mls at the moment. Obviously the worst times are during the night awaking in pain and in the morning with the dryness (before/after eating are trouble times too). Definitely get something stronger ASAP as the longer you wait the less your chances are.

  4. Hi, I really want to share my experience with you guys. This is my 13thday recovery of tonsillectomy. My doctor didn’t mention about the effects of the medication my medicine was Tramadol + Paracetamol Algesia 37.5MG/325MGTAB. This is my 3rd sleepless night. Yesterday was the worst I was crying AL DAY, I was too emotional, I feel like alone, I feel so lonely. This is the worst thing that ever happen to me. I will get back to my doctor tomorrow and will find out what is happening to me and will confirm if I’m really experiencing is normal and how to handle it.

  5. How can you get your medicine to work longer(stop the pain longer) before having to take more. Every four hours I have to take more cause it hurts and I haven’t been to school and i need it to work for 8 how can I make it last longer

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