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Helping Your Child Recover from Tonsil Surgery

Q: Our 4-year-old son needs to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. How painful will the recovery from the surgery be for him?

A: Most children do just fine after tonsil and adenoid surgery, apart from needing a short course of antibiotics and some pain medicine for a few days (which can cause constipation, so keep up the fluids and fiber!). Cold liquids, ice pops, and other frozen treats will probably help soothe the postsurgical pain, which should diminish over a week or so. The one risk after surgery is that as your child begins to heal, the scabs over the surgical site will loosen, and this can cause bleeding, sometimes quite significantly. If this happens, you may need to make a trip back to the hospital to have him quickly examined; rarely, the doctor will need to use a special cautery device to halt the bleeding. However, it is far more likely that the biggest danger to your child after a tonsillectomy is that he'll begin to think he can get away with having ice cream for breakfast every day!


Lara Zibners, M.D. This pediatrician mom penned the hilarious and helpful If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay. Write to her at