Tonsillectomy in Children: How to Ease the Recovery After Surgery
Preparing for a Tonsillectomy
A tonsillectomy is a routine procedure done mostly in children, although adults sometimes need to have this surgery. The procedure is outpatient and takes about 45 minutes. Typically the adenoids are also removed during this procedure. So how can you prepare for this surgery? First, make sure that your child has a full stomach. Since this surgery requires anesthesia, doctors will tell you no food or drink after midnight. Depending on what time your child's surgery is scheduled for, it may be a long wait before she can eat or drink. You certainly don't want any complaining about being hungry while waiting for the surgery.
Be sure that your child understands what will happen. In my experience, it is best to be honest with your child. Let her know that you will be with her in the beginning and then the doctors will take her to another room where she will blow into a balloon and she will fall asleep. When she wakes up, you will be brought back to see her and she will get to have a popsicle!
In addition to the mental preparation, there are the preparations that need to be made at home. Your child's throat will be very sore and she will not want to eat much. Have plenty of jello, applesauce, and other soft foods for your child to eat. The other important thing that you will need to do is to keep your child well hydrated. Even if she is not interested in eating at first, be sure that you have her drink continuously.
Before and After Pictures of a TonsillectomyClick thumbnail to view full-size
What to Expect After a Tonsillectomy
Immediately following the surgery your child will probably be very tired from the anesthesia. Allow your child to rest as needed. My daughter slept on and off for much of that first day. It is also normal for the temperature to be slightly raised for the first few days. You may also find that your child's voice sounds a little different. This is normal and the voice will most likely return to normal after the healing process has been completed. Keep the activity level low for the first week, but avoid just laying around in bed all day. Keep lots of good movies, books, and coloring or art activities on hand.
Remember that each child is different and so will the healing process. My daughter was eating ham and a brownie by the evening of the first day. Definitely not typical, but I wasn't going to stop her either.
Eating After a Tonsillectomy
Foods to Eat
Foods to Avoid
foods with sharp edges
well cooked noodles with butter
gum (the chewing action is good for the throat even if they are not actually eating.)
What should patients eat after a tonsillectomy?
There are many great foods to eat while recovering from a tonsillectomy. We were advised to avoid anything that was red. This is so that you are able to monitor whether there is bleeding or not. You don't want to guessing whether it is red dye or blood that your child is coughing up so just avoid red colored foods altogether for several days. Some children have a higher tolerance for pain and can eat firmer foods, but you should still avoid any foods that have very sharp edges or can get stuck in the back of the throat. Foods that are highly acidic may also cause irritation to the open wound. Your best guide is your child. Ask her what she wants and she will let you know what she is most comfortable eating.
After about the third day you will typically see your child's activity level return to a more normal level. Be cautious of days 3-5. Often times there will be an increase in pain on these days. In general keep your child comfortable. Your child will be back to normal in no time!