The tonsils are two areas of lymph tissue on each side of the throat. Multiple cases of throat infections involving the tonsils or large tonsils creating problems such as sleep apnea are reasons to have the tonsils removed during a procedure called a tonsillectomy. Ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons perform the operation most often on children, but adults who experience problems may also have the surgery. Proper postoperative care for adults helps ensure a satisfactory recovery for the patient.
A tonsillectomy is painful. Adults who undergo a tonsillectomy may experience more pain than children having the same procedure. Helping to reduce pain is important for adults following the surgery. Throat pain may last up to two weeks and pain in the ears from a common nerve may last for a week to 10 days, according to the University of Wisconsin Hospitals. Taking prescribed pain medications at regularly scheduled intervals, especially for the first several days, helps keep the pain from growing out of control. Once the pain becomes unbearable, it is more difficult to get it back under control. Another method for helping the throat pain following a tonsillectomy includes placing ice on the neck. An ice pack will help reduce swelling and provides comfort.
Staying hydrated following a tonsillectomy is important for several reasons. Drinking fluids such as water, eating gelatin snacks, or sucking on ice and fruit pops helps keep hydrated, according to the Mayo Clinic. Proper hydration helps decrease the pain in the throat, keeps the scabs in the throat moistened and helps prevent constipation. Avoiding milk products for the first 24 hours following surgery is necessary to decrease the possibility of nausea and vomiting, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology.
Getting adequate rest helps the body heal properly. Increased activity and lifting heavy objects increases the risk of bleeding from the surgical site. Most adults recover from a tonsillectomy within one to two weeks. Limiting activity during recovery includes an absence from school or work, resting and avoiding physical exercise. Individuals need to avoid lifting anything heavier than 25 lbs. during recovery, according to the University of Wisconsin Hospitals.
Take Prescribed Medications
Taking all prescription medications helps decrease potential side effects of a tonsillectomy. In addition to pain medication, antibiotics help the throat heal without an infection developing. The antibiotics also help decrease the bad breath associated with the healing scabs in the throat.
The first few days after a tonsillectomy, most adults need to begin with a clear liquid diet. Clear liquids include items such as water, apple juice, gelatin and popsicles. After tolerating clear liquids, the person can move up to a full liquid diet. Full liquids include items such as cream soups, yogurt and ice cream. As the throat begins to heal, soft foods such as mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs will not irritate the tender surgical site. Eating as much as possible helps give the body fuel to speed up the healing process and decreases the possibility of nausea from pain medications.