A Guide to Home Care
What Is a Tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy consists of removal of the
tonsils. Tonsils are the lymph tissues that lie
on each side of the back of the throat.
What to Expect
ξ Moderate to severe sore throat pain
(mostly when you swallow). This
may last 1-2 weeks.
ξ Ear pain. This may last for 7-10
ξ Blood tinged mucus. This is normal
for about a week. Avoid lots of
coughing and clearing of the throat.
ξ A grey-yellow membrane will form
where the tonsils were removed. It
will slowly go away as you heal.
This often takes 2 weeks.
ξ Your breath may be bad smelling for
a few days while your throat is
healing. Drinking lots of fluids and
good oral care are needed to help
decrease this odor.
ξ For throat and ear pain, take the pain
medicine as directed. Stay on a
schedule, even taking pain
medication during the night.
ξ You may also want to use an ice
pack or ice collar. Many patients
feel this helps ease the pain.
ξ If you take pain medicine ½ hour
before meals, it will help to decrease
the pain when you swallow.
ξ Drink plenty of fluids. When you
are hydrated, the pain in your throat
is less severe.
Follow the "tonsillectomy diet" for 1-2
weeks. This means
ξ Begin with clear liquids (water,
broth, apple juice, popsicles). Cold
or lukewarm liquids are easier to
drink at first.
ξ Advance to full liquids (milk, cream
soups, ice cream, cooked cereals) as
soon as you feel ready.
ξ Add soft, bland foods when you feel
you can swallow them (scrambled
eggs, macaroni and cheese, mashed
Avoid these foods until you feel healed.
ξ Acidic foods (orange or grapefruit
ξ Spicy foods
ξ Rough foods (popcorn, peanuts,
potato chips, cold cereals)
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting
dehydrated. This will also help you to heal.
Begin eating more full liquids as soon as you
are able. Your throat will still be sore but
eating more solid foods and taking in liquids
helps to coat your stomach and can help
Limit your activity for one (1) week.
ξ Avoid physical exercise and activity,
swimming or lifting greater than 25
ξ Be sure to get plenty of rest.
ξ Plan to be out of school or off work
for about 1-2 weeks.
You may be scheduled for a follow-up clinic
visit about 1 month after surgery. Or, your
doctor may not schedule you for a follow-up
visit if you feel comfortable with the healing
process and have no other concerns.
When to Call the Doctor or Clinic Nurse:
Call one of the phone numbers below if you
ξ Blood tinged mucus can be expected,
you should call with larger amounts
of active bleeding or blood clots.
ξ Nausea and vomiting that doesn’t get
ξ A fever over 101º F (taken by mouth)
ξ Pain not controlled with medicine
ξ A feeling that you are not healing as
you should. It takes about 7-10 days
before you will start to feel better.
ENT Clinic (608) 263-6190, weekdays from
8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
After clinic hours and weekends, the clinic
number is answered by the paging operator.
Ask for the ENT resident on call. Be sure to
leave your name, area code and phone
number. The doctor will call you back
If you live out of the area, please call
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 3/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4486.