Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy Post-Op Care FAQ

Last updated: 29 November 2017

Answers to the most commonly asked post-op questions following a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

Why are my ears sore?

This is a normal experience. The nerve that goes to the tonsils also goes to the ears. This nerve becomes irritated and the brain gets the message confused.

The back of my throat is white. Is it infected?

No. The white appearance is normal– it is the scab over where the tonsils have been removed. It will look normal once it has all healed. It is best to not try and look into someone’s mouth after surgery as this may disturb the healing process.

Is it normal to have a high temperature?

It is normal to have temperatures for a few days following tonsillectomy. (sometime up to 40-42 degrees).

Why are my pain killers are making me feel sick?

If this is the case, change to paracetamol and take it on a regular basis.

Why does my jaw feels tight? Why is it hard to open my mouth?

This is due to the jaw muscles going into spasm. Chewing gum for older children and adults may be helpful.

Why has the pain has gotten worse?

This is a normal event a few days after the procedure. Continue with regular pain relief and oral intake as best as possible.

What about jelly and icecream?

This is OK but the current thinking is that a return to normal food as quick as possible will encourage swallowing, reduce muscle spasm, and stop the scab becoming infected. Don’t force feed children though, as they are likely to resist.

How much bleeding is normal?

Small volumes or streaks are to be expected. Persistent or a lot of bleeding should prompt you to seek medical review.

How long does the pain last?

This is variable but generally it is about 1 week in children and 1-2 weeks in adults. Adults usually have more pain as they are more likely to have had more cases of tonsillitis and tried to put off having the tonsils removed– this results in more scar tissue which needs to be cut through during the operation.

By Dr. David McIntosh – ENT specialist


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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.

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