Tonsil and adenoid removal - discharge
Adenoidectomy - discharge; Removal of adenoid glands - discharge; Tonsillectomy - discharge
When You're in the Hospital
Your child had surgery to remove the tonsil and adenoid glands in the throat. These glands are located in the back of the throat and in the upper airway between the nose and the back of the throat. Often, adenoids are removed at the same time as the tonsils (tonsillectomy).
Now that your child's had a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy what do you do when you go home? I'm Dr. Alan Greene and I want to give you some tips for going home with a child who's just had surgery. First thing to expect is your child's not going to be feeling great for a week or two, especially that first week they may still have pretty significant throat pain and may feel lower energy. So plan a pretty easy week or maybe 2 weeks after the surgery. When it comes to diet one of the most important things is getting plenty to drink. So you want lots of popsicles, fluids, juices, but avoid real citrusy or acidic juices. This isn't the time for lemonade. You also want foods that are soft going down and not crunchy or spicy. So things like jello can be good, ice cream. I still remember sherbet after my tonsillectomy when I was 4-years-old, it was wonderful. Pasta can be good, mashed potatoes, you want to avoid though toast. Toast is great after a tummy ache perhaps, but it can be really scratchy on the raw throat after a tonsillectomy. Also want to avoid really spicy foods. Now your doctor may have prescribed some medication, perhaps some for pain and perhaps some antibiotics and those should be taken regularly as prescribed. And you want to make sure and call your physician if the pain is severe and is not relieved by the pain medications that were given to you. Or if there is bright red bleeding. A little oozing afterwards is normal, but if there's a lot of bleeding it should be looked into. Or if there's real difficulty swallowing even those mashed foods or any difficulty breathing would be reasons to get back in touch with the doctor.
What to Expect at Home
Complete recovery takes about 2 weeks. If only the adenoids are removed, the recovery most often takes only a few days. Your child will have pain or discomfort that will get better slowly. Your child's tongue, mouth, throat, or jaw may be sore from the surgery.
While healing, your child may have:
- Nose stuffiness
- Drainage from the nose, which may be bloody
- Ear pain
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Slight fever for 1 to 2 days after surgery
- Swelling of the uvula in the back of the throat
If there is bleeding in the throat and mouth, have your child spit out the blood instead of swallowing it.
Try soft foods and cool drinks to ease throat pain, such as:
- Jell-O and pudding
- Pasta, mashed potatoes, and cream of wheat
- Low-fat ice cream, yogurt, sherbet, and popsicles
- Scrambled eggs
- Cool soup
- Water and juice
Foods and drinks to avoid are:
- Orange and grapefruit juice and other drinks that contain a lot of acid.
- Hot and spicy foods.
- Rough foods like raw crunchy vegetables and cold cereal.
- Dairy products that are high in fat. They may increase mucus and make it hard to swallow.
Your child's health care provider will probably prescribe pain drugs for your child to use as needed.
Avoid drugs that contain aspirin. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a good choice for pain after surgery. Ask your child's provider if it is OK for your child to take acetaminophen.
When to Call the Doctor
Call the provider if your child has:
- Low-grade fever that does not go away or a fever over 101°F (38.3°C).
- Bright red blood coming from the mouth or nose. If bleeding is severe, take your child to the emergency room or call 911 or your local emergency number.
- Vomiting and there is a lot of blood.
- Breathing problems. If breathing problems are severe, take your child to the emergency room or call 911 or your local emergency number.
- Nausea and vomiting that continues 24 hours after surgery.
- Inability to swallow food or liquid.
Ungkanont K. Adenoidectomy. In: Meyers EN, Snyderman CH, eds. Operative Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 191.
Wetmore RF. Tonsils and adenoids In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 411.
Last reviewed on: 12/31/2020
Reviewed by: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.