How to Prepare for Tonsil and Adenoid Surgery

Tonsil and adenoid surgery can be scary for kids (and even adults). Your ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, will listen to you and your family, and answer any questions you might have about the procedure and what treatment(s) is best for you.

Tonsil and Adenoid Surgery for Children

When discussing tonsil and/or adenoid surgery with your children, you may want to:

  • Talk to your child about their feelings and provide strong reassurance and support.
  • Encourage the idea that the procedure will make them better.
  • Be with your child as much as possible before and after the surgery.
  • Tell them to expect a sore throat after surgery, but that medicines will help it feel better.
  • Reassure your child that the operation does not remove any important parts of their body, and that they will not look any different afterward.

It may also be helpful to talk about the surgery with a friend who has had a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy, if possible.

WARNING: Children should never be given aspirin because of the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome.

Tonsil and Adenoid Surgery for Adults

Before any scheduled surgery, you should consult with your primary care physician to make sure you or your family member are healthy enough for surgery. Your primary care physician may also require certain blood tests.

You should refrain from taking aspirin, or other medications containing aspirin, for at least two weeks before any surgery. In addition, your doctor may ask to you to stop taking other medications that may interfere with clotting.

Tell your surgeon if the patient or anyone in your family has had any problems with anesthesia or clotting of blood. If the patient is taking medications, has sickle cell anemia, has a bleeding disorder, is pregnant, or has concerns about the transfusion of blood, you should inform the surgeon.

You will be given specific instructions on when to stop eating food and drinking liquids before surgery. These instructions are extremely important, as anything in the stomach may be vomited when anesthesia is induced.

When the patient arrives at the hospital or surgery center, the anesthesiologist and nursing staff may meet with the patient and family to review the patient’s history. The patient will then be taken to the operating room and given an anesthetic. Intravenous fluids are usually given during and after surgery.

After the operation, the patient will be taken to the recovery area. Recovery room staff will observe the patient closely until discharge. Every patient is unique, and recovery time may vary. Your ENT specialist will provide you with the details of preoperative and postoperative care, and answer your questions. If you have any concerns during the postoperative period, call your doctor.

Follow-up Care after Surgery

There are several post-operative problems that may arise. These include swallowing problems, vomiting, fever, throat pain, and ear pain. Occasionally, bleeding from the mouth or nose may occur after surgery. If you (or the patient) have any bleeding, your surgeon should be notified immediately. It is also important to drink plenty of liquids after surgery to avoid dehydration.

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor?

  1. What do I do if my child will not drink fluids?
  2. What do I do if there is some bleeding after the procedure?
  3. How long is the recovery time?
  4. Will my (or my child’s) voice change?

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The information on ENThealth.org is provided solely for educational purposes and does not represent medical advice nor is it a substitute for seeking professional medical care.