What to Expect When Your Child Gets His Tonsils Out

Knowing what to expect when your child gets his adenoids or tonsils out helps make this common childhood surgery just a tiny bit less scary for parents.

When I was 6 I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out.  The reason why is a little fuzzy, I have been told I slept with my mouth open and snored a bit.  Whatever the reason was, I sleep just fine now (well, as well as any mom can with 2 kids, one being 6 months).  I personally remember the recovery process as being a nice time to just sit and be waited on for a few days.  My mom might recall that time a bit differently, but either way, there is a period of about 2 weeks for healing.  Here is what you can expect when your child has his tonsils out. 

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What to Expect When Your Child Gets His Tonsils Out

Recovery: Once your child awakens from the anesthesia, you are in the recovery phase.  You can expect your child to be groggy and sore.  She will most likely tire easily, and lack energy.  It was a very long time ago, but I do remember bits and pieces and I remember being really tired in the hospital (that is before my grandmother accidentally dumped a bag of ice on me while trying to refill my ice cup).  As tired as she will be, nights might find her restless and she may have trouble sleeping.  The recovery period lasts anywhere from 3-14 days.  The meds for pain may cause constipation, also she may not be eating well, after all he just had surgery on his throat.  Liquids are very important especially in the first 3 days post surgery. Lots of popsicles!  Or ice, but try to avoid dumping a bag on your child, like my grandma did to me.

Bad breath: I don’t remember this, but my mom may give you a different story.  This is because of the scab forming at the incision site.  You can help this with a salt water gargle (which is also good for the area, it won’t hurt).  Don’t be alarmed if you see streaks of blood in the spit, this is normal.  You can worry if there is steady bleeding, and then, please, head to the ER.

Fever: A fever is to be expected for a few days.  Just keep an eye on it, if the fever gets above 102* you want to call the ENT office.  They will tell you that, but just something to expect.  Sometimes as parents we jump too soon when our littles aren’t well.

Rest and Activity: It may not seem like much, minor throat surgery, but it was surgery.  Her body is trying to heal and so you don’t want her to over-exert herself and have something happen that lands you back at the doctor’s.  Keep your child home from school for about 7-10 days.  There is no hard and fast rule about this, but is the norm.  Hard activities like sports and rough play should be avoided for the first 14 days post surgery.  

Stay hydrated: You don’t want her to get dehydrated and where she isn’t eating much, you want to make sure she is drinking, even if it is sore to do.  Like I stated before, lots of popsicles, ice, water, avoiding anything acidic like juice.  If you do see some signs she is dehydrated, call your ENT doc immediately, or go to the ER.  Again, you will get papers that will instruct you on what to do, but something to keep in mind.

Blood: Some blood is normal, as the incision site is healing.  Streaks of blood in spit is normal.  A bloody nose or lots of blood from her mouth is not normal.  That warrants a call to the ENT doc.  They are used to lots of phone calls from worried moms, it is what they are there for.  

Cuddles and movies: While she won’t be able to enjoy any popcorn (too scratchy) you can cuddle up on the couch and settle in for some binge watching of movies.  Enjoy the quality time with your child.

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The bottom line is your child is going to feel crappy.  It is the time to cater to them.  If i remember correctly I think my mom actually gave me a little bell!  Even if I am making up that memory, it is still a cool one to have!  You can also just enjoy the short time your child is going to be quiet, as talking is not going to be high on the priority list for a few days, she will be too sore.  When in doubt, call the ENT doc.  They can walk you through anything, and also tell you if your child should be seen.  It is what they do on a daily basis.

 Did you have your adenoids and tonsils out?  What sort of recovery things have you heard from other moms?  Share your stories with us below!

21 thoughts on “What to Expect When Your Child Gets His Tonsils Out”

  1. Sabrina @ Dinner, then Dessert

    My husband had this surgery when he was little but I never did it! I hope if my little ones have to go through it there’s no complications!

  2. Great information. My Little Miss had her tonsils out last year and it was amazing. She recovered so quickly, I almost didn’t believe they did it. HA!

  3. Very good advice! It can be so scary when our little ones are hospitalized. Although all my children have been hospitalized a time or two they all still have their tonsils.

  4. I never had my tonsils out, but my husband did, so I do not have firsthand experience of what to expect. Good to know these things in case my son needs this done.

  5. Our youngest just had his tonsils out and this list is so true! Luckily after the first two nights it was a pretty easy recovery.

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