Home > Patient Information > Tonsillectomy - Adults

Tonsillectomy - Adults

This is an operation to remove the tonsils for recurrent infections or for obstruction to the airway. The patient will usually be in hospital one night after the operation. Some patients need to stay an extra night. You will need to remain in Perth for at least 10 days, or if you need to return home out of the metropolitan area, please be sure medical assistance is available. This is because of the slight risk of delayed haemorrhage from the tonsillar bed.

Post operation instructions

  1. Your throat will be sore for up to 2 weeks. Typically the pain improves slowly until about day 5 or 6 when it becomes worse and then starts to improve again. Please take medications as per the post-operative pain instructions protocol on the reverse of this instruction sheet. DO NOT TAKE ASPRIN OR DISPRIN.
  2. The best way to avoid pain building up is by using the throat. Eating, drinking and chewing (chewing gum etc) will normally speed up the healing process. You need pain relief about half an hour prior to eating.
  3. Avoid constipation – the pain medications often cause constipation. Be sure to eat “bowel food” such as prunes / all-bran etc.
  4. You will develop yellow slough (like a scar) on your tonsils. This is not an infection. You may also develop earache, which is referred pain from the tonsils.
  5. You will develop halitosis (bad breath). This will clear up in 7-10 days. Eating and chewing will help. Your sense of taste may also be affected. This usually settles after several weeks.
  6. Bleeding post-operatively is the most common complication. Most patients will have some bleeding which will be minor. Approximately 5% of patients will have some bleeding when the scabs fall off after 5-10 days following the operation. However, 1-2% of patients have significant bleeding and will require treatment. Occasionally there is a need to take the patient back to theatre to stop the bleeding.


  7. Occasionally some children will not eat or drink enough and dehydrate themselves. They may need re-admission for re-hydration.

If you have any concerns after discharge, please call the rooms on 9388 7474.

Post Tonsillectomy
Pain Control Regime After Operation

As you know, the operation is painful and this regime has been designed to help as much as possible.

  1. The pain is usually worst on the first day and then it improves. The pain then returns on the 5th day and may last up until the 10th or 14th day.
  2. Regular use of Difflam gargle 20mls 4 times a day 30 minutes before meals, or other gargle as appropriate.

Effective pain control guidelines

This is a guide to help you understand how to use any number of different medications you may be prescribed to reduce any discomfort or pain arising after you leave hospital.

Level 1

1 gm (2tablets) of Paracetamol should be taken every 6 hours until you
are comfortable. An anti-inflammatory medication, Celebrex, may be given
– use it twice a day.

Level 2

If after taking your Panadol you are still uncomfortable then
commence Oxycodone  (5 -10mg) every 6 hours (and continue your Paracetamol 1
gm every 6 hours).

Level 3

If 1 hour after taking your Oxycodone you are still uncomfortable then
commence Tramadol –100mg (2 capsules) every 6 hours and continue your
Paracetamol 1 gm and Oxycodone 5 -10mg every 6 hours.

Each Day

1. Commence at Level 1 and repeat the process.

2. Record your highest medication level.

Example of timing for effective pain control

Paracetamol 1 gm (2 tablets) at 6am, Midday, 6pm and midnight until comfortable.

If uncomfortable add Oxycodone 10 mg (1 capsule) at 7am, 1pm, 7pm and 1 am.

If uncomfortable add Tramadol 100mg (2 capsules) at 8am, 2pm, 8pm and 2am.

If a medication gives you unpleasant side effects then consider ceasing that medication:

  • Tramadol may cause nausea, vomiting, agitation or dizziness.
  • Oxycodone may cause nausea, vomiting, sedation, itchiness or constipation.

If you are still uncomfortable or require further advice and/or additional medications, please contact your GP or local Chemist or Mr Grey on 0408 822 110.


« back to patient information

site by Café Media