Surgery isn’t fun and an adult tonsillectomy definitely isn’t! When your doctor removes your tonsils through your mouth (i.e., no incisions), you will experience moderate pain for one to two weeks, perhaps longer depending on your case. You will also feel that the pain gets worse, in both your ears and throat, before it gets better.
But don’t worry too much as the pain will eventually go away and you will enjoy full recovery. Here are a few tips that will help in your faster recovery from a tonsillectomy.
Know What to Expect
Keep in mind that a tonsillectomy is a major surgery so you will have good days and bad days after the operation. You have to take these days in stride since these are temporary, whether it’s the pain that lasts for eight days or the feeling of tiredness for one to two weeks. You may even have bad breath for the next two weeks but it can be managed with regular mouthwash use.
Other things that you should be aware of are:
- A white coating, known as scabs, will be seen on the place where your tonsils were located. It will come off in five to ten days and then be completely gone in 10 to 16 days. A few spots of blood in your spit are normal but if you observe more blood, you should see your doctor immediately as there may be internal bleeding.
- Snoring is common but it usually resolves on its own within a week or two. We suggest placing a humidifier beside your bed so that your mouth and throat will not feel dry due to mouth breathing while asleep.
You will likely be unable to speak well during the first few days after the operation. Avoid speaking too much since you don’t want to place undue stress on your throat.
Rest and Sleep Are a Must
Keep in mind that your body has undergone a major trauma and, thus, it will require time to fully recover. You must then plan on resting for at least two weeks after the operation. You will likely spend more time resting and sleeping on your Eve bed than doing anything else so plan for it, too, even when you’re the workaholic type.
When resting and sleeping, you should lie on a 45-degree angle. This way, you will be less likely to experience the choking feeling common in tonsillectomy patients. A few pillows propped against the headboard should do the trick.
A few more things to remember about physical activity after a tonsillectomy:
- Leave the household chores to others for the first week, perhaps even longer, while your body recovers.
- Avoid strenuous activities like jogging, riding and aerobic exercises, much less weightlifting exercises, for two weeks. Better yet, wait for your doctor to tell you that it’s okay to resume normal activities. Even routine lifting, such as carrying grocery bags, handling a vacuum cleaner, and carrying a child, are off limits, since these can put extra strain on your body.
- Avoid irritants to your throat including dirt, dust and heat for the next two weeks.
- Avoid crowds as you may pick up an infection, such as the common cold, which can stretch your recovery period.
But don’t have a love affair with your bed either since it can also be detrimental to your recovery. You should try to walk a little every day, such as for 10 minutes for the first few days, and then gradually increase the distance. Your walks are important in boosting blood flow, as well as in preventing constipation and pneumonia.
Take daily baths, too, because these will make you feel better despite the pain.
But you will spend more time resting than performing your everyday activities during your two-week recovery period. You may or may not return to work after a week or so – it all depends on the type of work you do and your physical condition.
Know What You Put Into Your Mouth
You will be unable to swallow solid foods for the first three to four days after the operation. You can, fortunately, eat vanilla ice cream and cold jelly (i.e., no solid chunks) during this time so you don’t feel too hungry. The upside: You may lose a kilo or so during this time due to the decreased calorie intake.
Your doctor will recommend a cold diet, which means cold drinks, ice cream, popsicles, and smoothies are great. Never eat or drink hot drinks, acidic foods like orange and tomato foods, spicy foods, fast food, and soda pop for the next two to three weeks because these can irritate your throat.
You can add soft foods like yogurt, pudding, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and canned or cooked fruit to your diet when you can tolerate them. You may also ask your doctor about a fiber supplement to normalize your bowel movement.
Of course, you should follow your doctor’s medicine prescriptions! You will be prescribed antibiotics and pain relievers, and be sure to take them as directed. You shouldn’t stop taking antibiotics or start taking other medications without informing your doctor about it.
And don’t forget your follow-up check-ups. These are important in ensuring that you have, indeed, recovered well from your surgery.