OTTAWA SHORES E.N.T. ASSOCIATES, P.C.
Post-Operative Care for Tonsillectomy
- The recovery from tonsillectomy is a very painful period, often the worst pain people can recall, so please be understanding and patient with yourself, or the patient you are caring for. There are generally two periods to recovery, the first severe and the second less so, before returning to normal health. The first period lasts 5-7 days in children and 7-10 days in those over about twelve years old, and is the time the throat is re-growing its covering. If you look at the throat then, it is red and white and swollen, especially the uvula that hangs down in the middle of the throat. The second period lasts another 5-7 days in children or 7-10 days in those over twelve years old and has less pain, although you will still find that yawning, coughing, and sneezing will cause sharp twinges of pain. During this time the swelling improves and the tissue looks gray.
- Dehydration is the biggest enemy of the recovery period. It will increase the pain, increase the risk of bleeding or infection, and delay the healing. It usually happens because the pain of swallowing keeps the patient from drinking enough liquids. Therefore, the key is to force fluids, and that works best when pain control is maximized. This means alternating liquid Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) with liquid narcotic (Tylenol® with codeine or Lortab®). Each medicine can be taken every 6 hours, so the patient will be taking one of them every three hours, going back and forth between the two. You may find it helpful to take pain medicine during the night, especially if the patient awakens. These are usually best taken with some other liquid or soft food, because they can be irritating to the stomach. The worst pain is usually in the morning, especially beginning a day or two after the operation. Please be aware that no combination of medicines will eliminate the pain the patient will need to continue eating/drinking in spite of the remaining discomfort. A topically sprayed Chloroseptic® (OTC) also helps some patients.
- Bleeding can occur in 5-7% of patients. This must be reported immediately to Dr. Wilson. It may come from the nose, the mouth, or be vomited or coughed up. Depending upon the situation Dr. Wilson may recommend that this be observed at home or in the emergency room. In a small number of cases it may require treatment in the emergency department or operating room. The patient should not be more than 20 minutes from the hospital for the first ten days. The most likely time for bleeding is 5-7 days after the operation, although it may occur at any time. Do not panic call Dr. Wilson or 911.
- Remember that the patient should only have liquids or soft foods for the first ten days. Any liquid or soft food is safe, but most people will prefer cold over warm, and most find acidic things (citrus, carbonated soda or tomato products) will be more irritating. Favorites among our patients are popsicles, ice cream, sherbet, jello, pudding, applesauce, yogurt, eggs, potatoes, pasta, and soups. Definitely avoid hard, crunchy and chewy foods they will increase the risk of bleeding.
- Remember, no strenuous activity for 10 days following the operation. (this includes no lifting of more than 10 pounds).
- Since moisture helps soothe the healing throat, a room humidifier (hot or cold) is suggested when the patient is sleeping.
- If there are questions or problems you may contact Dr. Wilson at cell #616-405-6956.
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Any information provided on this Web site should not be considered medical advice or a substitute for a consultation with a physician. If you have a medical problem, contact your local physician for diagnosis and treatment.