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Preparing Your Child for a Tonsillectomy

May 13, 2024

Facing the prospect of your child undergoing a tonsillectomy can be a challenging experience for any parent or caregiver. However, with the right information and preparation, you can ease the process for you and your child. Here’s what to expect from the surgery and recovery.

Recognizing the signs 

If your child frequently experiences throat infections, snores loudly, struggles with breathing during sleep or experiences persistent tonsillitis, speak to your pediatrician, primary physician or other health care provider. “Persistent symptoms may signal the need for intervention and a tonsillectomy can provide relief by addressing recurrent issues,” said Paul Kouyoumdji, M.D., pediatrician at Inspira Medical Group Pediatrics.

Understanding the procedure

A tonsillectomy is a common surgical procedure to remove the tonsils, which are small glands located at the back of the throat. While the surgery is relatively routine, knowing what to expect before, during and after the procedure is helpful to reduce anxiety for the parents or caregivers and the child. 

During a tonsillectomy, the surgeon removes the tonsils through the mouth, typically using a scalpel, laser or electrocautery. “The procedure is relatively quick, taking about 30 minutes. Patients are usually under general anesthesia to ensure a pain-free experience,” said Dr. Kouyoumdji.

Preparing your child for the procedure 

  • Talk to your child calmly about the upcoming surgery. Answer any questions they may have and reassure them about the positive outcomes. “Open communication fosters trust and reduces anxiety,” said Dr. Kouyoumdji.
  • If possible, visit the hospital or clinic with your child beforehand. Familiarize them with the surroundings, meet the medical staff and explain the various equipment they might encounter. 
  • Offer positive reinforcement and rewards for cooperation before and after the surgery. 

Recovery expectations

After the tonsillectomy, your child will need time to recover. 

“Recovery can vary from child to child, but typically, the initial healing takes about one to two weeks,” Dr. Kouyoumdji said. “During this time, it's common for children to experience throat pain, difficulty swallowing and fatigue.”

Tips for parents and caregivers

  • Create a comfortable recovery space. Set up a cozy recovery area at home with soft pillows, blankets and your child's favorite comfort items. Keep the room quiet and well-ventilated to aid in a peaceful recovery.
  • Manage pain effectively. Follow the prescribed pain management plan provided by your health care provider. 
  • Stay hydrated and nourished. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids and consume soft, easily digestible foods. “Staying hydrated is essential for the healing process,” said Dr. Kouyoumdji. “Opt for cold or lukewarm liquids and avoid acidic or spicy foods.”

Preparing your child for a tonsillectomy requires understanding the procedure, managing recovery expectations and creating a supportive environment. You can help ensure a smoother experience for the whole family, leading to a faster and more comfortable recovery.

Inspira Pediatrics offers inclusive, high-quality care for children. To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit us here.

Topics: Children's Health