Tonsillectomy Tips for Parents

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.

Good-bye Tonsils Book

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.

This is something I wish we had: Hot/Cold Neck Ice Pack. Book for younger children – Good-bye Tonsils!

Do you have any other tonsillectomy tips to share about preparing for and recovering from a tonsillectomy?

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Connie Roberts

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Living in the Tampa Bay area, I'm lucky enough to see beautiful sunsets almost every day. Although life can be difficult at times, focusing on the positive and being with my family is what gets me through.

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  1. As someone who had her tonsils out as an adult and a mom of a son who had his out a year after mine, this is a pretty good list. He bounced back much quicker than I did.

    My son drank a lot of milk shakes although sometimes the cold can be too cold on the throat.

    Another tip I’d like to make about the pain medication….ask your doctor to order the ALCHOHOL free one! Then make sure when you have it filled you talk to the pharmacist. Try and get the prescritption ahead of time at the last office visit, not at surgery so that you have it ready when you get home.

  2. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    When my son had his, I found that smoothies went down well. I made these with plenty of fruit, yogurt, honey–I even added spinach ( provides dense nutrition, but the taste gets lost in the fruit and honey)–he had a soothing drink chock full of nutrition for recovery. The last comment was an good one–serve cool, but not cold.

  3. I believe in this tip in regards to the pain treatment. Ask your doctor to order the alcohol free 1! Then make sure when you have that filled you talk to the actual pharmacist. Try to get the prescritption in advance at the final office visit, not necessarily at surgical treatment so that you have this ready when you’re getting home.

  4. I should have had a tonsillectomy back in 2007. But I already have a swollen tonsil for almost a year, and I’m not sure if it’s the reason, but somehow I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
    The doctor told me that I can’t have a tonsillectomy until my thyroid gets better. It’s been 4 years now, I still have a swollen tonsil and my thyroid just got worst

  5. I’m going to guess that drinking from a straw would strain the area and cause more pain, but not 100% sure about that. I had no idea that all of that would happen. Thank you for the insight.
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  6. The only Tonsillectomy I’ve been a part of was that of my friend’s 4 year old son earlier this year. I was their support person at the surgery center and for the next 7 hours at home. I was the one who took notes of everything the doctor and nurse said in the recovery room and at discharge. I served the parents in any way possible when we returned home. Matthew wanted to be held all afternoon so we all took turns cuddling with him. He had his surgery on Wednesday and was back to school on Monday-with a very different voice!
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  7. i really like the whiteboard suggestion!
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  8. Great tips and I too love the whiteboard idea.

  9. Deb Dorrington says:

    I remember when my daughter had her tonsils removed, her dad and I were move nervous than she was. We did the stocking up of popsicles and yogurt pops and iced tea which is her favorite. I didn’t expect the vomiting but was assured that it was normal. Her recovery was quite quick, much faster than my brother’s who had his tonsils out when he was 35. I used my daughter’s recovery time to spend some great time together watching girly movies and writing little notes to each other. Your article is great for any parent who will be going through this ordeal…

  10. I would NEVER have thought about some of these in advance, these are great tips Connie! I wonder, though, with the throat being so angry, do they offer liquid pain relief instead of pills for tonsillectomies?
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  11. I had my tonsils out at 19 and I remember that the recovery was not fun. Now my 3 yr old is scheduled to go in to have his removed. I have a pretty good idea about what to expect since I went through it, but it has been over 10 yrs so I was searching the internet for refreshers and ideas about anything I didn’t think about doing when I was recovering myself. In preparation I have bought a few children books about going to the hospital, Curious George Goes to the Hospital and Franklin Goes to the Hospital, and I also ordered the book you have pictured above. I’m hoping these books will help ease his nerves about going to the hospital.
    One nice bit of info I never would have thought about was the hot/cold wrap for the neck. I found neck wraps for children on, they look like stuffed animals and they can be heated up or chilled. I bought two since you are supposed to let it cool for at least two hrs before use, one can be cooling while the other is being used.
    I completely agree with the poster that mentioned nutritous smoothies. I know that protein helps speed recovery time, whether you are an adult or child, so I am in the process of searching for recipes for high protein smoothies. I will have to update you guys on his recovery after surgery! I’m excited about the neck wraps : )

  12. These are some really great tips! For me, the most important thing was getting things to do, like books or DVD’s to keep my son occupied. It can make everything a lot worse if they’re bored out of their mind as well as in pain. Thanks so much for writing, I wish had read this before my son’s operation!


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