> Mom Knows Best ~ Healthy Recipes, Fitness & Parenting.: What Recovery From A Tonsillectomy And Adenoidectomy Was Like For my Child

Friday, August 8, 2014

What Recovery From A Tonsillectomy And Adenoidectomy Was Like For my Child

        My 6-year-old son recently had his tonsils and adenoids removed. I knew there would be some pain involved but I was totally unprepared for our week and a half recovery. So I am going to share my experience to give other parents the info they need to be prepared for their child's recovery after a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

The 24 hours after surgery
      The first 24 hours my son was in the hospital and he stayed in bed watching TV. He was allowed a clear liquid diet so he ate popsicles and Sprite. He experienced a lot of pain so he was given pain medicine every 4 hours. They also kept the IV in his arm to keep him hydrated. My son had a rough night sleeping as the surgery made his throat swell so he was waking up every hour due to his sleep apnea. He also had a pulse meter hooked up to him at night time to monitor his sleep apnea.

Pain Management

      We then went home the day after surgery. My son was still in a lot of pain so I tried to give him his pain medicine every 6 hours. The doctor said to alternate with acetaminophen and ibuprofen, but I found that the ibuprofen worked best. So buy at least 2 bottles of pain medicine and try to give the next dose before the other one wears off or it will be hard to get the next dose is due to pain. My son needed his medicine about every 6 hours. We went through 3 bottles of medicine. My son had a hard time swallowing the first week so taking the medicine was hard but we just did it slowly. I also discovered a humidifier helped with his pain. In the recovery area at the hospital, they used tubing with moist oxygen in which they place near his mouth. Ask the nurse if you can take that tubing home to use with your humidifier. I did not so I bought a toy from the dollar store, you know the one you spin and it makes noise, and put that in my humidifier. The moist air helped my son be able to take his medicine, I simply put the tube near his mouth, about 6 inches away. My son needed pain medicine around the clock for the first week and then less the following week. We are on day 12 of his recovery and he is not needing pain medicine anymore.


  The doctor said my son needed to rest for a week after the surgery. I made a bed for my son in the family room and he just watched TV the whole week. Don't plan on taking your child anywhere the first week. They just had surgery and you don't want them near people with colds. I also found sleeping in the same room with him made things were easier so I could tend to his pain medicine schedule. So I slept on the couch while my son slept on a crib mattress on the family room floor. I set my alarm clock every night to give him his pain medicine. After the first week, your child may have more activity but no exercise for another week,  as their throat is still healing. The doctor also said no swimming for at least 3 weeks as the pressure of the water can break open the areas in the throat. My son will have a follow-up appointment 3 weeks after his surgery and if all looks good he will be allowed to swim.


     The first week after the surgery all my son wanted was jello, pudding, and soda. He said everything else hurt too much to eat. I did get a couple of fruit smoothies in him if they were at room temperature. A soft diet is recommended for the first week and by week two they can eat normal foods. They just have to avoid things that will scratch their throat like crackers, nuts, and raw veggies. My son is now in week two and he is now eating pasta, oatmeal, bread, milk, and blueberries. He says cold things still hurt to eat. Here is a great list of items to stock up for after surgery.

+ Jello 
       + popsicles
     + pudding
        + ice cream
                  +chocolate milk    
+ pasta
                + mac and cheese
                              + items to make smoothies
         + applesauce
     + oatmeal

When to call the doctor

   My doctor said to call them if my son had a high fever or any blood from the throat. We did have one episode that required a call to the doctor. My son started coughing on day 4 and a lot of blood came out. The doctor said to rinse his mouth with cold water and thank goodness it stopped bleeding. The doctor said to go to the emergency room if it started to bleed again and did not stop with cold water. That would require surgery again to sew up the area again. It is rare but it does happen. Thank goodness, my son did not bleed again.

Other Facts

The first week was rough for my son. He was in a lot of pain and had trouble swallowing. He also had symptoms of his sleep apnea as everything was swollen from the surgery. We are into week two and my son is sleeping wonderfully, no symptoms of sleep apnea. I was thrilled to see him breathe through his nose while he slept, something he had not done for a long time. He does not ask for any pain medicine. I know that it can take up to 6 weeks for his throat to heal so I still have pain medicine on hand. I am also going to keep him a soft food diet until his 3-week checkup as I don't want the throat area to bleed.

Here are my other posts on my son's experience with why he needed the surgery and what to expect during surgery and the hospital stay.


  1. Good to know if my kids ever have to have their tonsils removed. Thanks Tara!
    p.s. it was great to meet you at the Bonefish media lunch last week. :)

  2. I really love the idea for the DIY tube. I don't know how we'd make it through with my kiddo.

  3. I have never had a child in surgery-good to know these tips

  4. You boy is a trooper! Love your down-to-earth guide on the whole tonsillectomy process.

  5. Helpful tips. Glad he is doing better.

  6. I shared through Pinning - good info on what to expect.

  7. That is great that he's doing so well! I'm sure you just helped a million nervous mothers by sharing this. Thank you!

  8. One of my little guys had to have surgery last year when he was 3 on a fractured elbow. That was difficult enough. I can not imagine having to go through a surgery with your kiddo when it involves tonsils/swallowing. Good thing there are so many soft foods that kids like! I hope he is feeling 100% very soon!

  9. I'm so nervous about my kids needing this. My nephew had to do it about 5 years ago (he's 14 now) and he kept hemorrhaging and Children's Hosp just kept sending him home. Then he'd hemorrhage again on the car ride to the house and my sis in law would turn around. I was like DON'T EVEN LEAVE. They finally got it under control but it terrified me because they wouldn't admit him and it really seemed like the hosp didn't care. I'm bookmarking this to calm me down and so I have a good resource, just in case. Thank you!

    1. That is why I was glad my son stayed the night at the hospital.

  10. Hi did you use a cool mist or warm mist humidifier? My daughter has her surgery this Saturday and I'm nervous for her recovery I just want to make her comfortable as possible your post was very helpful!!

  11. Thanks for your honest recount of your child's op. My 2yr son is getting an tonsillectomy next week. I am feeling nervous about the recovery but I feel more prepared and equipped after reading your blog. I can't wait until this is done because it really is awful!

  12. Thank You! There is some helpful info for me here. The packet given to me by her surgeon has similar tips/expectations but you have some extra suggestions that I will look forward to doing. My daughter (6) will be undergoing surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids in less than a week and I've been reading up on what to expect. She has sleep apnea due to obstruction. Between the nebulizer, snoring, never sleeping through the night, pausing when breathing and oxygen levels falling at night I am actually excited about this surgery. I will be so happy if she gets to sleep and well rested each night without struggling and waking up! This will be her 5th surgery. The shortest and least scary for me (not at all down playing this procedure. It is serious, scary, and not easy on anyone but her skull reconstructions for Craniosynostosis take the cake) She is old enough this time around to remember it and express what hurts and where, unlike before. But I still worry like I did the first time she went to the O.R. I appreciate your time to write about your sons situation! The humidifier trick is definitely a must for me to get ready it sounds like. As well as how many bottles of meds to purchase.

    1. I am glad that I was able to help. I hope your daughters surgery went well and she is getting some sleep

  13. My son is having surgery spon on his tonsils after his sleep study session. Did your son have to do that? They told me he will be released the same day and recovery is 2 days ? Am I being fooled?

    1. My son stayed overnight because of severe sleep apnea and he also had his adnoids removed. My son did have a sleep study that showed that he had severe sleep apnea. For my son the pain was intense and he needed pain meds. I would talk to the doctor about an overnight stay, maybe it is an insurance issue.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.


Mom knows best