More than 530,000 tonsillectomies are performed each year in children ages 15 and younger, but the common procedure does require some recovery time.
Children will typically have a sore throat for a week to 10 days following surgery, and they usually feel well enough to resume their normal activities after two weeks, says Dr. Gurpreet Ahuja, an ear, neck and throat specialist and the CHOC Children’s Specialists Division Chief of Otolaryngology.
Children who are otherwise healthy and not obese or underweight typically leave the hospital the same day as their surgery, and most children can return to school a week later, he says.
Dr. Ahuja noted there is a small risk for bleeding after surgery, so children recovering from a tonsillectomy should stay close to home as a precaution. If excessive bleeding occurs, parents should contact their surgeon or physician immediately or take the child to the nearest emergency department.
Here are some tips for parents of children recovering from surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids:
- Ensure your child is drinking lots of water and fluids. Proper hydration is important to help prevent fever, bleeding or infections.
- To soothe the throat, have the child drink lots of chilled fluids like water and Gatorade, and eat soft, cold foods after surgery such as Popsicles, smoothies and ice cream.
- Have the child eat soft foods that are easy to swallow, such as pasta, rice, noodles, bananas and yogurt.
- For pain management, patients ages 10 and younger can take over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Children older than 10 tend to have a little more pain and discomfort and may need a prescription pain medication. Contact your physician to ask about prescriptions for pain if needed, and also if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s recovery.
For more on CHOC’s otolaryngology program