Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Tonsillectomy: What to Expect After Surgery


Sore Throat

  • Removing the tonsils causes sore throat! This can last from 1 day to 2 weeks.
  • Keeping hydrated is the best way to prevent the pain.
  • Your child can take the pain medicine every 4 hours as you need to. For the first few nights, consider a dose of the strong medicine in the middle of the night. Often the pain is worse at night when there are less distractions.
  • Up to 1/3 of kids can experience a "dip" 1 week after surgery, when the pain flares up again for a couple of days. Restart the pain medicine if needed, and make sure the child is drinking well.

Ear Ache

  • Ear ache is "referred" from the nerves to the throat, or from spasm of muscles in the throat. It is not an ear infection!
  • Chewing things, like gum, or gummie candy can really help with this pain.

White Scabs

  • The throat heals with a whitish/yellowish exudate; that is normal, and should not be touched.
  • It takes a couple of weeks for those "scabs" to go away.


  • Fevers of up to 102°F (38.8° C) can occur for up to 72 hours, related to the anesthetic.
  • The pain medicine includes Tylenol, which can help with the fever.
  • Fevers that are higher than 102°F don't tend to occur with surgery, and are a sign of other illness.

Terrible Breath

  • Expect the worst breath of your child's life for 7-10 days. This is normal, and is how the throat heals.
  • Sometimes the antibiotics help with this bad breath. Hydration can help, as can chewing gum.

Last Edited: September 4, 2014
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