Post-Operative Instructions Tonsillectomy
The following instructions will help you know what to expect in the days following surgery. Do not, however, hesitate to call if you have any questions or concerns. Arrange to see us one to two weeks after surgery.
After this surgery, children should rest but may play inside after one or two days, if they feel up to it. Strenuous physical activity following surgery is discouraged. Children may return to school whenever comfortable; a week is average, but 10 days is not unusual. If the child has only had an adenoidectomy a 2-3 days absence from schoold is likely all that’s necessary.
The more your child drinks, the sooner the pain will subside. Water, apple juice, grape juice and Gatorade® or Pedialyte® are excellent sources of liquid. Soft foods such as ice cream, sherbet, yogurt, pudding, apple sauce and jello should be encouraged. Other soft, easily chewed foods are also excellent. Avoid hot or spicy foods or foods that are hard and crunchy. Often, chewing gum speeds comfortable eating by reducing the spasm after surgery and can be started anytime after surgery.
For the first several days (occasionally up to 10 days) following surgery, pain in the throat is to be expected. This can usually be controlled with Liquid Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or Tylenol with narcotic (prescription will be given at time of surgery). Avoid medication containing aspirin, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medication for two weeks. Pain is often worse at night and may prompt the need for additional pain medication. Ear pain, especially with swallowing, is also a common occurrence; it is not an ear infection but due to referred pain from the surgery. Treat it with Tylenol with Codeine. Occasionally a stiff neck may occur. Please call if it becomes excessively painful. Limit codeine in children under 5 years of age.
An ice collar can also be helpful for post-operative sore throat. Make this by placing ice cubes and water in a large Zip-Loc bag and wrapping it in a towel. Gently lay the ice pack on the front of the neck.
A low-grade fever (less than 101º) following surgery may occur and should be treated with Tylenol (acetaminophen). Follow the directions on the bottle. While children have a fever, they should play quietly or remain in bed. If the fever persists (more than two days) or if a higher fever develops, call. Fever may indicate that they have not taken in sufficient fluids of may have an infection.
Post-operative bleeding is unusual, but it can occur up to two weeks after surgery. Most bleeding is minor and you may only see a little coating of blood on the tongue. Put your child into bed, sitting upright, and place an ice collar on their neck. Watch for spitting, coughing or vomiting of blood. If you suspect bleeding following surgery, call immediately.