After my daughter had her tonsillectomy, I learned so much about how to make her recovery easier. I wanted to share some tonsillectomy tips for parents whose children are scheduled for this type of surgery. Even with the information from our ENT doctor’s office, there was a lot more suggestions provided to us from their staff whenever we called with a question or concern.
There are some things I wish I knew beforehand and some I’ve learned along the way. This isn’t medical advice, but one mom sharing what it was like for my 12 year old’s tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.
Tonsillectomy Tips for Parents
- Bring another adult with you to the procedure – Trust me, you’ll be nervous about the procedure. Having another adult with you helps you to be calm for your child. Since most tonsillectomies are done on an outpatient basis, having someone else drive so you can sit with your child will make things much easier and safer.
- Be prepared for vomiting – It can happen because of the anesthesia, or the pain medicine given to your child, but vomiting can occur. Bring a change of clothes and some type of bag with you for the car ride home. At home, leave a container at bedside.
- Expect restless nights – Your child may need pain medicine every four hours for the first few days, or may wake up a few times during the night because of pain, needing to use the restroom, or just needing some comfort.
- Stock up on food and drinks – Depending on your doctor and the time of surgery, your child may be able to drink clear liquids on the day of the tonsillectomy. Soft foods and lots of fluids are needed during recovery. Don’t get too much of the same type of food or drink because you’ll be willing to let him eat or drink almost anything! My daughter and some other children don’t want to eat or drink because it hurts so much. I gave up on yogurt and ice pops and switched to chocolate milk and crushed up/dunked graham crackers. She was on the verge of dehydration, so I was fine with that.
- No drinking from straws – I don’t remember why, but that’s what our wonderful and very helpful nurse told me!
- Pain medicine – Be prepared to give your child her pain medicine every four hours (or the time given by your doctor) for about the first two – three days. This will help prevent the pain from getting overwhelming.
- Get some cold packs – Flexible ice packs or frozen peas in a bag work well for around the neck and on the jaw to relieve pain and reduce swelling within the first few days of the tonsillectomy. Use a towel to wrap up the cold packs before putting them on your child.
- Heating pad may be necessary – Later on, a heating pad can be used for neck and ear pain. We tried this and really helped! My daughter’s muscles were tight around her shoulders so this came in handy. It was placed on her upper back and around the back of her neck a week after the procedure. Keep an eye on your child since they can fall asleep with the heating pad on.
- Avoid citrus and citrus flavored drinks – Citrus can sting the throat.
- No school for at least a week – My daughter was home for a full two weeks. She gained back some of her energy by the second week, but still had some pain and was weak.
- Keep notes – Write down the time and dosage of pain medicine, any other medicine, when your child urinates, your child’s temperature, etc. It is so easy to get confused because of the lack of sleep and if someone else is helping to care for your child. It’s also important to have that information if your doctor’s office needs it.
- Rent some movies – I rented DVD’s, bought some new books, and got out some coloring books and crayons to keep my daughter happy. TV can get boring, even for our kids!
- Buy a whiteboard – Instead of using lots of paper, we used a dry erase board for my daughter to write instead of speak when it hurt too much to do so.
Do you have any other tonsillectomy tips to share about preparing for and recovering from a tonsillectomy?
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