Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

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More about Your Treatment

You have been told by your doctor that you need an operation of tonsillectomy and or adenoidectomy. Please take a few minutes to read through this information sheet which answers the most usual questions patients ask. The tonsils are two fleshy masses lying at the sides of the throat and the adenoids lie at the back of the nose. Their function, as a small part of the large lymphatic system, is to assist building up resistance to infection in the first year or two of life. In childhood, when immunities develop, these organs enlarge but usually decrease in size as the child passes through adolescence. Infection leads to redness, swelling and soreness – especially on swallowing and in the case of the adenoids this may obstruct the back of the nose or the Eustachian (ventilation) tube which runs from here to the middle ear. Sometimes very large tonsils may obstruct breathing.


Tonsillectomy (Removal of the Tonsils) is performed most often when:

  • There have been troublesome recurrent attacks sufficient to significantly affect a person’s health and quality of life.
  • There has been a severe and dangerous attack of tonsillitis requiring hospitalisation.
  • The child has had a Quinsy, which is an abscess forming behind the tonsils.
  • Enlargement causes obstructed breathing (sleep “apnoea”).

Adenoidectomy (Removal of the Adenoids) is performed when adenoid enlargement causes:

  • Severe obstruction at the back of the nose, making the child mouth-breathe during the day or snore at night.
  • An interference with the normal opening of the Eustachian tube that opens into the back of the nose causing recurrent deafness from “glue ear” (secretory otitis media) or repeated ear infections.

Advice for parents/patients after operation

  • A letter will be sent to your doctor saying what operation has been performed on you or your child.
  • The throat will be sore for about 7/10 days after tonsillectomy and the uvula, which hangs down at the back of the mouth, may be swollen for a while. These symptoms may be worse in an adult.
  • No school (or work if an adult) for two weeks – one week in the case of adenoidectomy alone.
  • Restrict contact with people outside the family for about a week, especially with those who have had a cold or infection, until the tonsils have healed (2 weeks).
  • Encourage a normal diet and extra fluids. Start by eating and drinking little but often at the beginning; gradually get back into your normal routine.
  • During this time you will be a large rough patch (slough) where the tonsils used to be.
  • You will be given 2 types of pain killer sufficient for 10 days and these should be taken alternatively at regular times. Adults will be given 2 bottles of mouthwash for before and after food.
  • Earache – is quite common after tonsillectomy and does not mean there is ear infection.
  • Chewing gum is recommended to get your chewing muscles working again.


  1. Bleeding may occur after surgery, usually within 8-24 hours of the operation. If there is any doubt, you will be kept in for observation.
  2. Secondary infection – occasionally, 5-14 days post operation, there may be increasing pain and/or bleeding. This means the raw area has become infected and re-admission to hospital and treatment with antibiotics may be required if severe – contact either your doctor or the hospital.

 Length of stay

Time in hospital – 24 hours after the operation.

 Time off school/work – 1 week after adenoidectomy, 2 weeks after tonsillectomy.


For queries please contact:  Ambulatory Care on (01908) 995 470