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After A Tonsillectomy or Adenoidectomy

Girl drinking water.
Drinking plenty of fluids will help your child recover.

Your child has had surgery to remove tonsils or adenoids. Your child will need time to get better. Below are guidelines to help your child recover.

Pain and activity

  • Expect your child to have some throat or ear pain for 1 to 2 weeks.

  • Limit activity for 1 to 2 weeks or as advised by your child's healthcare provider.

Diet

Make sure your child gets enough fluids and healthy foods. Here are guidelines:

  • Give plenty of fluids. Good choices are water, frozen ice pops, and mild juices. Don't give orange juice or similar juices. Offer small amounts of fluids often. This will keep the area moist.

  • Give soft foods to eat. These include gelatin, pudding, and ice cream. Other choices are scrambled eggs, pasta, and mashed foods.

  • Don't give spicy, acidic, or rough foods. These include fresh fruits, toast, crackers, and potato chips.

Your child can eat as they normally would as long as it doesn't bother them.

Medicine for pain

Only give your child medicines that the healthcare provider has told you to give. This may include either ibuprofen or acetaminophen. In some cases, you may switch between these each time. Follow the healthcare provider’s directions closely. At first, you may be told to give your child medicine for pain even during the night. That means waking your child up at night to give them medicine. Check your child's pain at least every 4 hours.

When to call your child's healthcare provider

Mild pain and a slight fever are normal after surgery. The area where the surgery was done will turn whitish while it's healing. This is normal. It's not an infection. Call your child's healthcare provider right away if your child has any of these:

  • Fever that doesn't go away (see Fever and children, below)

  • A seizure caused by the fever

  • Severe pain not eased by medicine

  • Bright red bleeding from the nose or mouth, in spit, or in a clump (clot)

  • Trouble breathing

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don't use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds of digital thermometers. They include ones for the mouth, ear, forehead (temporal), rectum, or armpit. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Use a rectal thermometer with care. It may accidentally poke a hole in the rectum. It may pass on germs from the stool. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. If you don’t feel okay using a rectal thermometer, use another type. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which type you used.

Below are guidelines to know if your child has a fever. Your child’s healthcare provider may give you different numbers for your child.

A baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

A child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 101°F (38.3°C) or higher

Call the healthcare provider in these cases:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2

  • Fever that lasts for 3 days in a child age 2 or older

Online Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.