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Home arrow Forms & Instructions arrow Post Operative Instructions -- Tonsillectomy
Post Operative Instructions -- Tonsillectomy PDF Print E-mail

  1. In the immediate post-operative recovery period, a liquid diet should be maintained.  You may feel temporarily drowsy and nauseated from the anesthesia.  You may experience some vomiting due to swallowing of blood during the surgery or from the anesthetic.  Medication is available for nausea.  When liquids are tolerated satisfactorily, the diet may be advanced to a soft diet. 
  2. Diet:  During the next week, it is essential that fluids are increased.  Remember, ice-cream and popsicles count as fluids.  It is not uncommon for patients to lose weight after a tonsillectomy.  This weight is usually gained back during the second or third post-operative week.  Even if your child can not eat, he or she must still drink fluids during the first seven days after the operation.  A normal diet may be resumed after the first seven days.  It is not uncommon, however, for some patients to require a soft diet for a few more days. 
  3. Expect some throat and ear discomfort, sometimes lasting 7 – 14 days.  Please use the pain medication prescribed by your physician as directed.  Use ice packs on your neck, if possible, during the first 24 hours.  This may help.  Usually the third through fifth post-operative days are the worst in terms of pain.  The more fluids your child drinks the more it helps the healing process and the pain level.  If pain is not relieved, contact your physician. 
  4. Please do not use aspirin or Motrin products.  These products can increase the chances of bleeding during the first ten days after the operation.  Also remember that the prescribed pain medicine may contain Tylenol.  You must be careful when using additional Tylenol. 
  5. Fever:  Some fever is to be expected. A low-grade fever (101 F orally or 102 F rectally) is common during the first several days after the operation.  An infection of the tonsil beds after the operation is extremely rare.  The increased temperature is often associated with inadequate fluid intake and should be treated by increasing fluid intake. Should the fever persist or go significantly higher, please call the office or the physician on call.
  6. Bleeding:  Watch for postoperative bleeding.  Bleeding is the most common complication after a tonsillectomy.  A little bleeding the day of surgery is normal.  The most common times are the initial 24 hours and seven to ten days after the operation.  Often, the bleeding stops spontaneously or by gargling gently with ice water.  If these measures do not work or if you are concerned at all, please call your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency room. 
  7. Bad breath: It is very common for children to develop bad breath after a tonsillectomy.  This is not a sign of an infection.  It is part of the body’s normal healing process.  The bad breath can last seven to fourteen days.
  8. White scabs in the back of the throat:  This is part of the normal healing process after a tonsillectomy.  It is not a sign of an infection.
  9. Activity:  Limit physical activity for the first seven days.  Your child should work on fluid intake and getting better over the first week (little activity).  Most children can return to school and normal activity on post-operative day number seven of eight.  Some children need a day or two more to recover form the surgery.  This is not atypical: Every body is different.  Our office staff would be happy to provide notes, excuses for time missed away form school or work.
  10. A follow-up visit should be arranged for about four weeks after the surgery.
  11. If you have further questions, please contact us.
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