Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Anatomy: The tonsils and adenoids are lymphoid tissues that help fight infections in the back of the throat.  This is why they get big when you have tonsillitis.  If the tonsils need to come out, there is still plenty of lymphoid tissue to fight infections in your throat.

Surgery:  The surgery takes about 15-30 minutes under general anesthesia and can be done in an outpatient or inpatient setting.  After surgery, you will taken to the recovery area for 1-2 hours and then sent home with medication to control pain.


Pain:  Adults will experience a sore throat for up to 2 weeks, while children usually recover more quickly.  You will be given a liquid narcotic pain medication or a pill that can be crushed and dissolved in water if desired.  Children under 6 years of age can alternate use of ibuprofen and Tylenol® for pain control.

Diet:  Hydration is the most important concern after surgery.  Encourage your child to drink plenty of liquids.  We recommend avoiding chips and taco shells that have pointed edges that may cause pain or bleeding in the first week to 10 days.  Use cool, soft foods such as: ice cream, yogurt, Jell-O® or pudding. Citrus products may cause discomfort.  If your child does not want to eat solid foods, initially, this is OK.

Bleeding:  There is a 2% chance of bleeding after surgery. Cold ice water will help keep bleeding under control.  You may expect some blood tinged saliva within the first 2 days post-operatively.  If more than 2 tablespoons of bright red blood is seen within a 1 hour span, contact our office.  Any brisk bleeding, recurrent/persistent oozing demands an immediate call. This may require more instructions or a trip to the emergency department.  If major bleeding occurs, go the nearest emergency facility. For pediatric patients, please go to Tucson Medical Center Children's Emergency Room (TMC) for further care.

Activity: You may perform only light activities for 2 weeks – no sports or lifting over 10 lbs. Children should stay out of school for a minimum of one week due to discomfort and hydration issues.  Adults may require up to two weeks from school or work.

Ear pain:  This is referred pain and is related to the healing process.

Fevers:  Low grade fevers (less than 101.5º F) are common.  A fever of 102º F should be reported to the physician.

Neck stiffness: This is particularly common after adenoidectomy.  This is due to the adenoids being right next to the muscles that allow neck movement.  This should be of concern if it is associated with a temperature of 102º F or higher.

Follow-up:  Office follow up visits are usually not necessary. Check with your physician if an appointment is needed.   Please call with any questions or concerns that may arise.  Our physicians will be happy to see you for any issues.