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Having Your Tonsils Removed

Tonsillectomy

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Updated May 30, 2014

After Having Your Tonsils Removed

You will be monitored by a nurse for a few hours after having your tonsils removed. Before you leave the hospital or surgical center, you will be given exact instructions on how to care for yourself at home. Your doctor's orders should supersede the advice of this article but commonly patients are instructed:

  • to remain in the care of a responsible adult for at least 24 hours following surgery
  • not to drive, sign legal papers, or participate in activities that require them to be awake and alert for at least 24 hours after surgery
  • to eat and drink clear liquids if they are experiencing post-op nausea and vomiting (clear liquids include apple juice, soda, soup broth, jello and black coffee)
  • to eat food that is easy to chew and swallow
  • to elevate their upper body

Patients are usually asked to call their physician or go to the emergency room if they experience the following:

  • fever or chills
  • excessive nausea and vomiting
  • excessive pain
  • if they are unable to urinate within 8-12 hours of surgery
  • any bright red bleeding
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

You will likely be prescribed oral pain medication to take following surgery. Typical medications used include oxycodone and hydrocodone. Often combination medications like Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen combined) and Lortab (hydrocodone and acetaminophen) are prescribed. You should refrain from taking acetaminophen while on a combination pain medication to avoid an acetaminophen over dose.

You should not drive while taking these medications. Make sure you follow the directions and talk to your pharmacist before combining medications. Your pain should gradually decrease and within a few days after surgery most patients start feeling better. Make sure to schedule a follow-up appointment with your surgeon.

Sources:

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Fact Sheet: Tonsillectomy Procedures. Accessed: June 19, 2009 from http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/tonsillectomyProcedures.cfm

Medline Plus. Tonsillectomy. Accessed: June 19, 2009 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003013.htm

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