DOs & DON’Ts of Recovering from an Adult Tonsillectomy

Thanks for hanging in there, dear reader, while I posted ad nauseum about my progress. This will be my last post on the subject before we return to your regularly scheduled broken lady bits programming.

The DOs and DON’Ts of Recovering from an Adult* Tonsillectomy

Keep in mind this is just one woman’s experience. Your results may vary. Your doctor will provide you with information and tips for a comfortable recovery; this is sort of a supplement to that.

DO  Plan to take plenty of time off work. For me, two weeks was just enough.

DON’T  Push yourself to resume normal activities too soon. You may think it’s no big deal to stand at a sink for 10 minutes washing dishes, but your body needs all its strength to heal. You can’t waste it on household chores, no matter how easy they seem. I was lucky enough to have a husband who could pick up the slack. If you don’t have a partner or roommate to help you with those things, ask a family member or friend to come over a couple of times. (If you have children to care for, I’m sorry I don’t have much advice for you. If it were me, I would probably have my kids stay with grandparents or aunts and uncles as much as possible. I’m sure that’s easier said than done.)

DO  Plan to keep busy during your recovery time. Make a list of all the movies you’ve wanted to see, but haven’t had the time, then fill up your Netflix queue. That stack of books gathering dust? Clean it and move it to your nightstand. Any project or hobby that doesn’t require a lot of energy or movement – anything you can fall asleep safely while doing – should be on this list.

DON’T  Count on getting anything done. Yes, it’s important to have a list of things to keep you occupied, but don’t promise your boss you’ll finish that Ninja Report, or your best friend that you’ll read her novel. I had big plans to catch up on my blog reading, but every time I started, I didn’t make it far before starting to nod off. I couldn’t focus. I wouldn’t be able to do any real work.

DO  Follow your doctor’s recommended pain management schedule. For me, it was a liquid painkiller every four hours. “Set an alarm,” my doctor suggested. I scoffed. SET AN ALARM, my friend. You will start hurting before the time is up; no sense in making it worse by waiting even longer. DO Keep a log of when you take your medications. It’s easy to lose track.

DON’T  Take more medication than recommended. DON’T take it more often than recommended. This should be a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. You will be tempted. Just DON’T.

DO  Eat often, even if you’re not hungry. Small portions, small bites, are best. I suggest waiting until your painkiller has kicked in (for me, that was 30 to 60 minutes after taking it) to make it easier and less painful. Your doctor should provide you with a list of soft foods, but this is what worked for me:

  • Scrambled eggs (cook quickly, cool quickly)
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream (smooth, nothing with chunks)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Smoothies

DON’T  Jump back into your normal diet and eating habits too soon, unless your normal diet is bland. After 2 weeks, I could eat pretty much anything I wanted, so I did. After all, I spent the last 2 weeks eating nothing but scrambled eggs and applesauce. Boy, was that a mistake! I won’t go into the gruesome details, but let’s just say I’m glad it happened when I was at home.

DO  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I lived on Powerade and Popsicles the first few days. As much as it hurts to swallow, take frequent sips of water throughout the day.

DO  Sleep with a humidifier. A dry throat is a soar throat, and you won’t be hydrating much while sleeping.

DO  Take a gummy multivitamin or drink Ensure. You will not get enough nutrition from food during your 1 to 2-week recovery, so it’s important to supplement. One with fiber is a good idea, as the combination of poor diet and pain medication will leave you constipated.

DO  Shower every day. You’ll feel better. It’s energy wisely used.

DO  Plan to sleep sitting up. If you have a recliner, great! If not, one of those pillows designed for reading in bed works well to help prop you up. You may not need this, but it’s best to plan for it. The reason? Your uvula will mostly likely swell to twice its normal size (or more), and stay that way for a long time. I couldn’t lie down normally without choking on my uvula. It took some getting used to, sleeping upright, but in the end, it worked the best.

DO  Take advantage of your pharmacy’s delivery service, if available, for refills on pain medication. It’s one less thing for you and your caretaker to worry about.

DON’T  Answer your phone, unless it’s your doctor. Tell friends and family to text or email you. Consider changing your voicemail message before surgery to remind callers that you can’t talk. You may feel good enough to talk, but it’s additional strain that your body just doesn’t need.

—————————–

* Recovery for kids is a completely different story.

Tonsillectomy Diaries: Recovery Day 1

Tonsillectomy Diaries: Recovery Day 3

Tonsillectomy Diaries: Recovery Day 8

Tonsillectomy Diaries: Recovery Day 11

 

Advertisements

131 thoughts on “DOs & DON’Ts of Recovering from an Adult Tonsillectomy

  1. This post was very helpful for my mother and I. We used it as a guide to help prepare for my tonsillectomy. After reading many reviews I was super nervous pre-op. I’m 22 yr old female and had my tonsils and adenoids removed 6 days ago. I won’t lie, days 1-3 were the worst for me. Anesthesia gave me a headache on day 1. Day 2 I threw up that night probably from my meds and lack of eating (Percocet). After that I refused to take Percocet and started controlling the pain with aceminophen (Tylenol) 500mg every 6hrs and the pain has been manageable. Today I’ve been able to get it down to every 8hrs now. By day 4 I was eating solid foods. I’m a foody and couldn’t help but eat even if my throat hurt. Sucking on ice after eating has also helped me. I’m going on day 7 and I’m ready to get out the house. I haven’t experienced any ear pain or real sleeping problems either, humidifier has probably helped me a lot. Key is to drink LOTS of fluids (water and gatorade worked for me) and try to eat as normal as possible. Continue to brush your teeth and shower, you will feel better (and start gargling with water when your up for it). Hoping this is a little bit more encouraging for people who have been consumed by horrible reviews like me. There is a light at the end of the tunnel ! Good luck everyone.

  2. I was curious if anyone had trouble swallowing after the surgery? I’m considering having the surgery because my tonsils are always swollen and I find it difficult to swallow food. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to choke. I’m petrified on how scary that would be after the surgery!

    • Most painful experience I have ever had. Day 1-2 were fine. 3-5 were the most painful days, I could barely talk and had ear pain which I read that it’s comment for that to happen.

      • I am on day 3… honestly, it is sore, but its not has bad as what I was expecting or actual tonsillitis.. with tonsillitis I would feel drained and just all around unwell.. but this is just like a severe pain in my throat which, without talking and a little distraction I do forget about. It is hard to cope with at times when the medication has worn off, such as in the night times or mornings but throughout the day when I get going it’s not so bad. I was eating on day one, and eating normal things day 2, wraps and toast and all sorts, I even went out on day two for some of the day. I read alot of reviews before having it done, which made me want to cancel the whole thing and live with recurring tonsillitis because the reviews made it sound horrendous! But I am glad I went through with it and it’s done now.

  3. This article and conversation are keeping me going. 24 years old. Had a tonsilectomy 1 week ago today (rip tonsils) following a hand full of quinsys strep throats and a near monthly tonsilitis. had a fever day 2 so they changed my augmentin to 650mg (not sure why i was on 375mg post procedure). Had some irritating uvular swelling which got in the way of swallowing for the first few days. I was eating solids straight away which was okay (just needed lots of water) but today the pain is crazy. Ive noticied particularly after ketchup or food with ketchup. Had some mild bleeding 2 mornings ago but it resolved pretty quickly. Pain up to my right ear atm. 100% worse after eating. Feel a sleepless night ahead of me

  4. I am on day 4 of my recovery and I can honestly say that this is the worst pain I have ever been in before! I find the mornings and before bed the worst so make sure your pain killers are next to your bed. Eating is the most painful thing but it is important that you try to get back to usual diet as quick as possible, I find that noodles/ bread are the best to swallow, even though it is extremely painful the more u eat the more your throat gets used to it and it prevents big amounts of bleeding by eating regularly. Smoothies/ protein drinks can come in handy because sometimes you really can’t eat and need one of these to get you through the day. I am not kidding I have lost just under a stone in this amount of time and have also suffered with constipation, at this point i would not recommend the surgery to anyone who suffers from tonsils stones( like me) if you don’t have pain before, but if u suffer from recurring tonsillitis I would recommend it as it will be worth it in the long run. My main piece of advice is make sure u have someone for support as you find yourself crying a number of times a day, get plenty of rest and to take medication regularly ( don’t feel brave and skip any)!

  5. Great advice. I am 31 and I wish I could have found this thread before my surgery. I’m at day 5of recovery. I’m trying not to take the pain reliever prescribed because it burns my throat. I am taking ibuprofen IB 1 every 4 hours. Fashioned my own ice pack with a towel, a Ziploc bag and ice. Numbing throat lozenges help as well as the herbal pain reliever ones.

    • I am 53 & on day 8 after tonsillectomy. Advised to take 14 days off work, luckily no problem. Doc said initially you may feel it’s not been as bad as expected but not to be fooled as days 4-7 pain will increase in ears & face, as nerve endings heal etc. It has gone exactly as described, I was advised to eat normally, after dosing up, when pain was less, ate toast, crackers, albeit slowly, from day 1 every day, & so far throat has begun to clear of dead skin or debris from healing. Pain was intense in cheekbones, jaw & even teeth, like neuralgia days 3/4, so could only sit & feel sorry for myself. I took the full daily recommend doses of painkillers recommend right through, codeine, ibuprofen & paracetamol, & feel now I can begin to reduce them. Hang on in there, it does go to plan, is worse for adults as healing takes longer, just keep dosed up, chewing gum helps too. I took a little exercise & got fresh air most days too. Keeping warm, cotton wool in ears & scarf felt comforting. Warm drinks, not hot or cold were best. Hope to continue now to get better positively.

  6. I had bleed to throat 9 days post op, it was very scary as was bleeding for two hours as got infection. I did everything my consultant told me to do. After five weeks still can’t taste food, was told it will return but I am not so sure. Feeling fed up as no one told me this would happen. Has anyone else experienced this?

    • Yes I did.I had tonsillectomy on 15 june.6 days after the surgery I bled like crazy.bleeding started by 3am in night I happened to swallow the blood till 8 in the morning.the time I reached hospital after talking to my doctor I vomited almost 2 litres of blood.it was a rupture in blood vessel,said the doctor. immediately I was taken to the operation theatre where doctor performed cauterization.The same day I was discharged after putting me on a unit of blood.
      Unfortunately,I started bleeding for the second time right after 2days.this time again lost a considerable amount of blood.unergone cauterization again.and it’s going to be one month after tonsillectomy and still struggling to live a normal life.

  7. Day one post op. My ENT prepped me but didn’t think it will be this difficulty to talk, walk, sleep, worst to swallow, even on Meds ( tylenol#3) liquid. Had a bad headache from the general anesthesia. Family have been very supportive….

  8. Day 4 post op. I had my op on Monday. The first few days were tolerable. The last few have been far worse. With each day the pain has worsened. I’ve finished the Endone and I’m nearly done the Panamax Codeine. I have little taste, I’m constantly thirsty and my ears are constantly aching. Today, I was able to have some chicken soup. Reading the online testimonies have been very helpful for me. I’m optimistic that I’ll feel much better within the next 3-4 days.

  9. I’m thinking of taking a week off of work for mine I do dishes as a summer job my said I’ll be fine with in a couple of days and he and my boss are having trouble understandING this that I need rest afterwards. Will I be okay to go into work after a week or should I just take that week and see how deprived I am. I usually don’t talk all that much at work anyway so could I do my job and just go home and rest? And instead of talkING constantly to my mom or dad to get me something like to eat or drink could I use like a small erasable whiteboard?

  10. I’m 31 had my tonsils removed on aug 12 today is day 5 and man today is he worst my moth taste disgusting and smells I wish I would of read these posts earlier I have here girls and chasing them around and picking up from day care is harsh I tried to go back to work today and left an hour after getting there , the meds I need but they make me so nauseated because I can’t eat much I know there is a light at he end of this tunnel I just have to get back to work tomorrow and dreading it completely .

  11. I find it interesting.. Majority say eat soft foods.. Which is what I prepared for. My surgeon and doctors and nurses have told me to eat solids too. Carefully obviously. But it helps get the scabs off. I was told if I stick to liquids and soft mushy food. Scabs will build up and cause more issues if they don’t fall off kinda thing…I’m at the end of day three. So true the pain just gets worse..thank fark for oxy.. That’s all I can say . I just want a damn cigarette too. But not risking it.
    .

  12. Its not as bad as everyone says it is. I had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was 4yrs old, don’t remember a lot then other than waking up a d throwing up a lot in which really hurt but like I said I was 4 so what doesn’t make a 4 yr old throw up. But I just had my adenoids removed yet again bc I was o e of those select few lucky ones who’s grew back. Its basically like having a score throat. Just wouldn’t advise drinking anything high in acid, especially like soda….worst feeling ever. I’d also advise eating soft foods. The afternoon after my surgery I ate applesauce, oatmeal, mashed potatoes and some very soft chicken pie with shredded chicken. Only thing that sucks for me is I feel like something is stuck in my throat like mucus or something and I was highly advised not to do so cause I could cause the scabs to tear and come open and start bleed in which you do NOT want. But overall it isn’t so bad.

  13. I am a 45 year old female and got my tonsils removed on Tuesday, Dec.27,2016. When I woke up from my surgery, I was pleasantly surprised how I felt. I didn’t have much pain, I was able to talk, and drink a vanilla shake and eat a little bit of jello before I was discharged. I thought I was in for a easy recovery. Much to my surprise, this has been torture! The first 3 days were okay. I stayed on course with the pain medicine along with 500mg of Tylenol. However, my food intake was very minimal because of a few reasons. 1. my stomach was getting all yucky from pain meds leaving me feeling nauseous , 2. It hurt to swallow 3. my tongue was numb so I wasn’t tasting anything 4. noodles and jello were getting stuck in the gaping holes in the back of my throat leaving me feeling like I was choking on food and lastly, the after taste in my mouth due to the scabs in the back of my throat was not pleasant either. Therefore, I completely lost interest in trying to eat anything. After the 4th day, I just couldn’t handle taking any more medication with no food in my stomach because It felt like it was just burning holes in my esophagus and stomach. So I began to stretch out the times that I took my doses. On the 4th day, I woke up in so much pain in my throat and ears, I couldn’t even talk (My Dr did tell me that I would notice a spike in pain on the 4/5th day due to the cauterized areas scabbing) I thought, okay, this is that day he mentioned. Not so much, the 4th, 5th, and 6th day so far have been complete torture! I feel like someone is sticking knives into my eardrums and I am swallowing razor blades with the nasty disgusting taste that I am assuming is from the cauterized white scabbing in the back of my throat. Even with all this pain, I am still finding it very difficult to swallow the pain medication because I know it only takes away some of the pain in my throat but causes other issues in my stomach and continues to constipate me (7 days without a bowel movement). I have been living on cold Smart Water and Italian Ice (only taking baby sips and a few spoonfuls throughout the day). Today (my 6th day) My husband has made me soup mac noodles in butter, which I began to eat until I realized it was collecting in the gaping holes where my tonsils once were. That was uncomfortable for me, so I couldn’t continue to eat. I tried applesauce and the acidity burned my throat and actually brought me to tears. I just wanted to get something in my stomach and nothing seemed to work. I literally had to force myself to take a dose of the pain meds and then made myself a chocolate Carnation Instant breakfast drink with a spoonful of peanut butter (protein). This is the first full meal I have been able to get down with no issues. I can only hope that on the other side of healing that all this pain, starvation, constipation, and nasty scabby in the back of my throat is all worth not getting tonsil stones ever again. I would like to know if these big holes will ever fill in with other tissue or is that now going to be a different issue I am going to have???

    • Hope You’re not still suffering as bad. I’ve not heard of tissue holes not filling in. At age 47 here I myself am in week four with a similar trek. I HIGHLY recommend ICE in the blender to snowcone consistency (because it requires NO chewing, or sucking, and eating a giant styrofoam cup by the spoonful lasts long time and it’s so soothing while it slowly melts) – Bliss. Also icepacks on the outside. I’ve learned (American Academy of Otolaryngology) that any surgery like this takes ONE YEAR to completely heal although an average of 30days for someone my age to feel like myself again. Aspirin and even Ibuprofen can exacerbate and bleeding did occur for me, and may be occurring now as I am still nauseated entering week4. I may need recauterization and will see the ENT again (post-op week two went well) Should be a free visit due to surgery followup. I’ve given up trying to get most things done – chores are waiting but suffering not worth the lack of rest.

  14. So glad I found your blog, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one Aunt Flo decided to visit during the most grueling 2 weeks of tonsillectomy recovery. I’m currently on day 4 and so far the pain has been consistent, no more, no less. Swallowing is torture so eating has been difficult which makes the pain meds feel like they’re burning a hole through my stomach. I can barely sit up without feeling dizzy and nauseated. I was hoping staying with my parents would be helpful so they could help keep an eye on my 2 year old, but my dad seems to think I’m faking it or that I should be doing more than I am. I wish I felt well enough to help out more, I hate just laying around doing nothing all day. My mom and littler sister have been immensely helpful though and I’m so grateful for them.
    I also had a turbinate reduction done (instead of a septoplasty) and my kid keeps wanting to headbutt me in the face. I know he’s trying to be sweet and cuddly, but holy crap does it hurt! And all the gunk from my nose dripping down into my throat is hell because all that excess phlegm makes it impossible to breathe, especially in the middle of the night. I’ve been doing salt water gargles and that helps break down some of the phlegm. Now to wait for my tongue to stop swelling…

  15. Wow!
    I am a very busy 67 year young lady , today is day 8 of my tosilectomy!!
    You ask why now?
    Sick of having tonsillitis! For years and years. Bad breath, tonsil stones etc
    Have been resting a lot Next week I will return to my very part time job
    We will see how that works out
    But I have to work alittle
    Today I found the early am and pm before bed is really painful.
    But getting better each day.
    Today I ventured out and had scrambled eggs
    Taking lots of fluids Popsicles ice cream ( burns) and H2O lots ice chips
    I will keep in touch

  16. I am 32 years old and will be getting a tonsillectomy later this year, I have been getting reoccurring tonsillitis for which i have been hospitalized because my tonsils block my airway, I have never been under general anesthesia, which is scaring me and have read a few concerning stories. I’m concerned about the possibility of hemorrhaging. Any one have any pointers/tips for me?

  17. I had my surgery about 4 days ago,day 1 was terrible but the sooner I ate hard food like toast,rusks,fish,salt and vinegar simba tjips the less pain I hade.for me the more swollen it was the more I ate because it helped alot,I try to stay away from soft foods because to get rid you have to get rid of that white stuff as soon as possible.throughout the day I constantly try to eat hard and dry stuff the more the better and also the sooner you eat hard stuff the less likely that your throat will blead…I hope some of my recovery tips will at least help some through their pain.

  18. I’m a 25 year old female. I am on day 3 and this is awful! From what I’ve been reading the worst is yet to come. Can’t wait till I feel better.

    • Hang in there, Deana. It WILL get better. My daughter found that cold drinks felt better to her than warm things. We also used a vaporizer in the room to moisten the air. You’ll manage to find what works best for you and just try to distract yourself with reading, watching TV, sleeping, whatever works. Be good to yourself. I hope you heal quickly. Good luck and hugs.

  19. Hi all, I’m 55 yrs old & day 4 post op. Every post about your experience is spot on. I’m eating a lot of jello. Thankfully all the posts I’ve been reading is easing my mind. Looking forward to week 2. Good luck everyone. Hope we all have a speedy recovery.

  20. Pingback: Say, Aaaaah! 4 – internet resources, tricks, and tips on surviving an adult tonsillectomy #T2Q #random | Curious as a Cathy

  21. Pingback: Tips for Adult Tonsillectomy Recovery - Normal Ness

  22. Tina I’m on day 5 of this torture being that I have never suffered with tonsillitis was surprised after going to my Gps about my right tonsil be rather large and have a prickly throat was referred to the hospital within two weeks but was seen within less than a week and told my tonsils needed to be removed and mentioning it was a chance that it could be cancer .i must admit by then really was in shock but within the next day the hospital had called with appointment which they said there was a cancellation and was booked in for the 1st August 17 I think if I knew how bad was going to feel I may of held back on having the surgery but now its done I just have to take it day by day I have struggled with the burning throat and never have I ever had pain like it I have had to stop taking codene as makes me be sick and now I have stopped taking ibuprofen due it giving me diarrhoea even thou I have not managed to eat much.is there any one that has had there tonsils out in same or similar way

  23. Woooooooooow!!! This would’ve been really helpful for me a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been having a hard time sleeping and healing well.

    Regards

Talk to Me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s