Information on Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeries
Tonsil and Adenoid Surgery
Care After T & A Surgery   




The first thing you do is take your child home and let him or her rest. It is very common for a child to sleep on and off for the first day or two. 


Ask your doctor when your child should come back for a check up, usually the first visit should be made for 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.   If you have any questions, please call the office or answering service. The doctor or a member of his staff will speak to you or return your call as quickly as possible.



The most important thing is to have your child drink liquids, otherwise dehydration can sometimes occur.  Solid foods are not as important to take as are liquids for this reason.  Also, there may be too much soreness to swallow solids.  Stay away from foods which are sour, salty, sharp or hot since this may cause pain and discomfort.

Suggested liquids: Apple juice, grape juice, Hi-C, Gator Aid ,etc.), sodas (you may want to let the "fizz" out first), popsicles, sherbet, apple sauce, Jell-O, pudding.

Not Recommended: Solids, orange juice (any citric drink), spicy foods. These are only guides. The important thing is to have your child swallow liquids. Whatever works is the best thing to give.  Milk products may increase mucus secretions but if the child will only drink a milk shake and eat ice cream then it is OK to give them. 

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The above picture shows the post-operative appearance of the tonsillar fossa.  A whitish appearance and black cauterized tissue can be seen.


There is usually not too much bleeding during the operation, but there is always a chance of bleeding after your child comes home after the operation.  The most common time for a child to bleed after tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy is 4 to 8 days after surgery.  Sometimes bleeding may occur in the first 24 hours after the operation.  Usually this early bleeding occurs within the first 2 hours.  However, bleeding can occur at any time, until everything is healed, which takes about two to three weeks.  Most children do not bleed afterwards, but every year a few do.   If this occurs, have the child swallow some ice water.  If the bleeding persists, you should bring your child to the Emergency Room for evaluation.  Sometimes, the child may have to return to the operating room to control the bleeding.  


Everyone is different and everyone has a different amount of pain. It may also depend on how much infection there was before the operation. Most children are nearly fully recovered after 7 to 10 days. Some bounce back after 4 or 5 days. A sore throat is very common after a tonsillectomy, but the ears sometimes hurt as well because the tonsils in the mouth are so close to the ears. As the mouth heals, the ear pain will go away. Adenoidectomy does not cause as much pain and a child usually recovers in 3 to 4 days.

Adults are much slower to recover after a tonsillectomy. It is not uncommon for an adult to be off of work for 2 to 3 weeks and not eating solids for at least 2 weeks.


The two things that make pain go away are taking liquid Tylenol with Codeine (you will get a prescription to take home with you) and swallowing lots of liquids.   Encourage your child to speak, clear his or her throat, and swallow. Chewing gum may also be helpful.


A small fever (100 or 101 degrees) is common after surgery.  If it goes above 102, call and we will discuss it. Often, fever goes away in a few days.  You may give Tylenol to decrease the fever but DO NOT overdose this medication if you have given Tylenol with Codeine pain medications.   Stay away from aspirin, Advil and other non-steroidal pain relievers since they can increase bleeding.

Make sure you are giving the pain medicine often. The other thing to do is give your child more liquids to drink.  These tricks usually work and will keep your child comfortable.


Antibiotics after surgery will help the healing process.  It will also prevent infection after the surgery.  It is very important that your child take both antibiotics and pain medications.


Your child should rest for the first few days.   They don't have to stay in pajamas or in bed.  Running around, playing, and jumping are not good, but your child can go with you if you have to go somewhere.  They can be in a car, and they can go with you to the store but they will be tired for the first several days. Your child can go back to school 7 days after surgery, but not to gym class for another 3 weeks after returning to school.   You should stay in town for 21 days after surgery in case there is delayed bleeding.



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