A tonsillectomy is a common surgical procedure where enlarged or infected tonsils are removed. It's normal to feel anxious about your child undergoing this type of surgery, but there are steps you can take to make it easier for you both.
4 Steps to Take When Preparing for Tonsillectomy
Follow these steps to help your child prepare for surgery:
- Arrange care. A tonsillectomy is performed as an outpatient procedure, which means that your child will leave the hospital on the same day. Arrange to bring your child to the surgery center and then wait for them to take them home. You’ll then need to take at least one week off of work in order to care for your child while he or she recovers at home. Don't plan anything important (i.e. vacations) for at least two weeks following the surgery.
- Plan your child's post-surgery diet. As your child recovers, it's best to limit the diet to soft, cool foods that won't cause bleeding. Avoid feeding your child any dairy products for 24 to 48 hours after surgery, as these foods can leave a residue in the back of the throat. It’s important your child stay hydrated during the recovery process, so be sure to work in enough fluids for each day.
- Stock up on pain relief. Your child's throat will be sore after surgery, and the pain may worsen before it gets better. Help manage your child’s symptoms by stocking up on approved pain medicines that you can administer after the procedure. Your doctor may recommend Tylenol or Motrin, or if your child is older, prescription narcotics. In winter, use a humidifier to prevent dry indoor air from irritating an already sore throat.
- Follow all pre-operative instructions. Ensure your child doesn't eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before the surgery. Fasting is mandatory prior to general anesthesia to minimize the risk of vomiting.
3 Things to Watch out for After a Tonsillectomy
Once your child has had their tonsillectomy, watch for these complications following the procedure:
- Dehydration. Your child needs to drink plenty of clear liquids so they can feel better more quickly, but they should not drink through a straw because the suction could cause bleeding. If your child's very young or refuses to drink, he or she may need intravenous fluids until he or she can drink on his/her own.
- Constipation. It’s normal for your child to have fewer bowel movements after taking pain medications. You can fight constipation by increasing fiber intake with smoothies.
- Bleeding. Minor bleeding after a tonsillectomy is also normal but stay close to medical care for about two weeks following surgery in case your child has excessive bleeding. Avoid giving your child red liquids, which can be confused with bleeding.
The thought of a tonsillectomy may make you and your child feel uneasy, but good preparation can help put you both at ease.