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Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Tonsillectomy (Removal of the Tonsils)

The tonsils are located in the back of the throat on each side of the mouth behind the tongue. They are frequently removed because of repeated bouts of tonsillitis (infected tonsils) or because they interfere with breathing.

Adenoidectomy (Removal of the Adenoids)

The adenoids are located behind the nose and are hidden from view by the palate (roof of the mouth). They are frequently removed because of ear infections; nasal airway obstruction, especially when sleeping; or recurring nasal drainage. Often tonsils and adenoids are removed at the same time.

General Instructions


A moderate amount of throat discomfort is to be expected after tonsillectomy. Many times, a child will have ear pain. This is "referred" pain from the tonsil area. Your child's doctor will usually prescribe pain medication, such as Tylenol with or without codeine. Taking the medication 1/2 hour before eating may help your child to be more comfortable when swallowing. The more your child swallows, the sooner the throat discomfort will disappear. As a general rule, give your child Tylenol every four hours except when asleep for the first four to five days after surgery. As pain decreases, you may reduce the frequency to an as needed basis.

Do not use aspirin, Aspergum, or ibuprofen products because they could cause bleeding. Do not have your child gargle or use mouthwash. You may be given prescriptions for other medications, such as antibiotics. Take these as directed.


Drinking is very important after surgery. Avoid sour liquids such as tomato, orange, or grapefruit juice. Our experts suggest giving your child apple or apricot juice and popsicles. Soft foods, such as Jell-O, and mashed foods are helpful to maintain adequate nutrition. Avoid hot, spicy, rough, or scratchy foods, including the following:

  • Toast
  • Potato chips
  • Pretzels
  • Crisp bacon

These may irritate the healing throat and cause bleeding.


Allow limited physical activity the first two or three days at home. Avoid visitors and crowds. Your child's doctor or nurse will advise you on school or work activity.

Operative Site

When you look into your child's throat following a tonsillectomy, you will see yellow or white patches where the tonsils were. This is not a sign of infection but is a temporary, healing process.

Warning Signs

If your child has any of the following, call your child's doctor immediately:

  • Fever higher than 101 degrees
  • Severe pain, unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Bright red bleeding from the mouth
  • Poor fluid intake combined with decreased urination, and dry mucus membranes