Having tonsils and adenoids removed might seem like a relatively minor surgery to an adult, but it can be quite uncomfortable for a young child. There are a few things you can do to ease recovery and ensure they’re back to their old selves in a timely manner.
What To Eat After a Tonsillectomy
Eating and drinking can be a challenge following surgery on tonsils and adenoids. Your child might experience discomfort for two to three weeks, and care must be taken to avoid opening the healing wounds. The following guidelines will help ensure you child is well-nourished and hydrated without too much discomfort.
1. Avoid anything that is too hot or too cold. Lukewarm, slightly warm or slightly chilled is best.
2. Encourage heavy fluid intake, up to 64 ounces a day. Dehydration can dry out the throat and palate, aggravating the healing areas. Lightly chilled liquids are often the best, but avoid straws. The suction can dislodge the healing scabs at the back of your child’s throat and lead to bleeding.
3. Don’t rush into a solid food diet. Start on a mostly liquid or mushy diet and slowly work your way into firmer foods.
4. Immediately after surgery, popsicles and other flavored ice treats are the kindest on the throat, good for uneasy stomachs and an easy way to boost fluid intake. It’s best to stay away from heavy dairy, but ice cream can be given if it’s followed by water to rinse the throat.
4. Other great, mild foods to try include:
- Mild juices like apple and pear
- Clear broth soups, starting with only a few added ingredients that don’t need to be chewed
- Hot cereals like oatmeal and cream of wheat
- Apple sauce
- Mashed potatoes
- Scrambled eggs
- Pasta with butter, oil or light sauces
5. Avoid the follow types of foods, which can irritate the healing area:
- Hard and crunchy foods, like nuts, popcorn and raw fruits and vegetables
- Heavily salted foods, like beef jerky, crackers and fries
- Acid foods, like tomato soup and sauce, pickles, lemonade and orange juice
- Spicy foods, including some ramen soups, red pepper sauces and spiced meats
On the first night home, your child is best off sleeping propped up on several pillows with his or her head raised above the heart. It helps with post-surgical drainage and is often more comfortable. Many children prefer sleeping on an incline for a while after surgery.
Moist air can be soothing and support healing after tonsils and adenoids have been removed. Run a humidifier in your child’s bedroom and whichever room they stay in most often during the day. This is especially important during the winter when indoor air tends to be dry.
Some children experience ear aches as a result of referred pain, swelling and muscle spasms from the throat. Warm compresses can help alleviate the muscle spasm, and chewing on things like gum and gummy candy can help relieve the tension as well.
Chewing gum is also a great way to keep your child’s throat lubricated with saliva and can help with pain relief. Opt for a sugar-free gum that isn’t cinnamon- or citrus-flavored.
Stuffy noises are another common side effect after tonsils and adenoids are removed, particularly the adenoids. Upon a doctor’s approval, you can use a sterile saline nasal spray to rehydrate, loosen any blood clots and decrease swelling in the area.
Follow the pain and antibiotic medication regimen prescribed by your doctor at the time of surgery. You can expect some discomfort in the first few days, and then a possible, marked pain spike about a week after surgery. Extreme pain levels accompanied by excessive bleeding are abnormal, and you should call your doctor if you have any concerns.
Some children that experience considerable swelling have a difficult time swallowing pain pills. If this is the case, ask your doctor if a liquid form is available or if you can split the pills into smaller pieces. Your child may have an easier time swallowing the pills or their pieces if they’re coated in something soft and slick like butter or cream cheese.
As the anesthesia flushes from your child’s system, they may run a fever the first two to three days after surgery. If the fever is over 102 degrees F and persists despite administering medication like Tylenol, call your doctor. It could be a sign of infection and should be addressed immediately.
Full recovery from a tonsillectomy can take up to a month. With patience and nurturing, can make your child’s difficult experience a little easier.