What happens after the operation?

The throat is painful after the operation and therefore it’s important to follow the prescription and take painkillers regularly. It’s normal for the intensity of the pain to increase 4–7 days after the operation and then to become less. The pain is normally much less when only part of the tonsils have been removed.

The pain is worse in the morning; this is true for several reasons. Partly because the child has a dry throat from not swallowing anything during the night, but also because it’s been a long time since the last pain medicine was taken. It’s more comfortable to sleep at night with a slightly higher support under the head than normal; the swelling of the mucous membrane surrounding the area operated is diminished and the pain is therefore reduced.

The tongue may feel uncomfortable for the first few days after the operation, because the tongue has been pressed down with a special instrument during the operation to make it easier to get to the tonsils. It will usually feel better if you can get the child to move his/her tongue, therefore it’s good to get them to eat and drink. Also, the ears may ache without there being an ear infection. Chewing gum can sometimes alleviate the ache.

Pain relief

After the operation, it’s very important to take painkillers (medicines to stop pain). These must be taken according to the doctor’s instructions and at regular times for them to have the best effect. Get the child to eat approximately 30–60 minutes after he/she has taken the painkiller, since that is when the effect of the painkiller is at its best. Children receive paracetamol as basic pain reliever (for example, Alvedon, Panodil). Additional or different medicine may be prescribed by the doctor.
Buy the painkillers in advance so that you alreadily have them available when you and your child return home after the operation. You can buy Paracetamol without a prescription from the chemist/drugstore and in many shops. You may need a prescription to buy other recommended painkillers; you’ll be given advice and any necessary prescriptions by the doctor in charge for your child’s treatment.

Sickness

Sickness and vomiting are common, especially during the first evening after the operation. Many times there can be some old blood in the vomit (it looks dark), since blood often runs down into the stomach during the operation. The sickness usually disappears the day after the operation.

Food and drink

It’s important to encourage your child to eat and drink normally. If the throat is dry, the child is likely to feel more pain. Give the child what he/she wishes to eat. Liquid and soft food is usually best just after the day of the operation. Hot food and food that can scrape the throat should be avoided for the first few days.

How long does my child need to stay at home?

The time that the child needs to stay at home varies. When only the enlarged parts of the tonsils have been removed, the child should be home for at least 4 days. When both tonsils have been removed completely, the child should be home for at least 8 days.

Bed rest isn’t necessary. It’s good for the child to be up under calm conditions even during the first few days, and there’s no reason to prevent the child from going outside if the child feels up to it. If at all possible, avoid being with people who have a cold.

The child should not be allowed to do things requring heavy physical effort during the 14 days that are normally required for the throat to heal completely.

Follow-up

Most hospitals don’t have a routine to have planned follow-up visits after the operation. However, if there are any complications, please see under the tab, Important. All tonsil operations in Sweden are monitored via the National Tonsil Surgery Register in Sweden. Read more under the tab, In-depth. The Quality Registry helps us to improve health care.

You will receive two questionnaires, the first after thirty days and the second after six months. The questionnaire that you get thirty days after the operation lets us know about any complications experienced after your child’s operation. The second questionnaire that you get after six months, contains a couple of questions about whether there was any discomfort after the tonsil operation, which we also want to know about.

It’s very important to for us to get your answers, even if your child hasn’t experienced any discomfort—we need to know that too! It’s important that you answer both questionnaires!