Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy (T&A) Post-Op Instructions
Tonsil surgery is performed on an outpatient basis with general anesthesia. The patient is discharged the day of surgery, if he/she can drink adequate liquids. A patient who is unable to drink, has excessive vomiting or high fever, or needs injections for pain control may be kept overnight.
Throat pain is common for two weeks after the operation.
Ear pain, often severe, usually begins on the third day and lasts for about a week. This is caused by sensitive ulcers after losing their scabs, not by an infection.
Tylenol with codeine is ordered for pain control and should be taken as directed. Antibiotics that may have been prescribed should also be taken as directed. No medication with aspirin (such as Excedrin, Dristan, or any medication containing salicylic acid) should be taken for two weeks after surgery. Aspirin itself should not be taken for two weeks, because it encourages bleeding. Tylenol may be taken.
Medications containing codeine may cause constipation, which may be made worse by decreased fluid intake. A mild laxative, such as Milk of Magnesia, may be taken, if fruit juices (apple, grape, prune) do not relieve the discomfort.
A white membrane normally forms in the throat, and the breath may be unpleasant. The patient may rinse his mouth with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt and one cup of lukewarm water.
A low-grade fever - up to 100 degrees - for two or three days is usual postoperatively, particularly in those patients who do not drink enough fluids. The fever is caused by mild dehydration rather than an infection. Notify the doctor if a fever greater than 101 degrees orally develops.
Minimal bleeding occurs on the day of surgery. Frequently, scabs may fall off five to eight days after surgery, resulting in minimal blood-streaked saliva. If persistent bleeding occurs after discharge from the hospital, notify the ENT Clinic, or go directly to the emergency room.
After surgery the throat muscles are sore both during speech and swallowing. Initially, fluids are encouraged - pop, soda, milk, flavored drinks, and water. Some juices, such as orange, grapefruit, tomato, and pineapple, cause a burning sensation and should be avoided.
Gradually soft foods should be added. Although all foods may be eaten, some will be better tolerated than others. Bland, lukewarm foods are easiest to swallow.
The throat is usually adequately healed at ten to 12 days.
A child need not be kept in bed after surgery, but should be kept quiet. Children may resume school after one week, if they feel well enough. Physical education, sports and band should be avoided for two weeks.
Adults may normally resume work in one week. However, if the work is physically demanding or undertaken in extreme temperatures, the patient may need sick leave for two weeks.
The patient should be protected from exposure to cold and from close contact with persons who may have a cold, cough or sore throat.
A post-op appointment should be arranged for approximately two weeks after surgery. Should problems or questions arise before that time, the patient should call the Clinic. Patients should refrain from out-of-town travel – including vacations and business trips - for two weeks after surgery.
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