After Tonsillectomy/Adenoidectomy

Girl drinking water.Your child has had surgery to remove tonsils or adenoids. Your child will need time to get better. Below are guidelines for your child’s recovery.

Pain and activity

  • Expect your child to have some throat or ear pain for 1 to 2 weeks.

  • Limit activity for 1 to 2 weeks or as advised.


Make sure your child gets enough fluids and nutrients. Food and drink guidelines include:

  • Give lots of fluids. Good choices are water, popsicles, and mild juices. (Do not give citrus juice or other acidic juices.)

  • Give soft foods to eat. These include gelatin, pudding, ice cream, scrambled eggs, pasta, and mashed foods.

  • Do not give spicy, acidic, or rough foods. These include fresh fruits, toast, crackers, and potato chips.


Give only medicines approved by your child’s healthcare provider. Follow directions closely when giving your child medicines:

  • Your child may be prescribed pain medicine.

  • Do not give your child ibuprofen or aspirin. They may cause bleeding. If needed for discomfort, you can give your child acetaminophen instead.

When to call your child's healthcare provider

Mild pain and a slight fever are normal after surgery. The surgical site will turn whitish while it is healing. This is normal and not an infection. But call your child's healthcare provider right away if your otherwise healthy child has any of the following:

  • Persistent fever (See Fever and children, below)

  • Your child has had a seizure caused by the fever

  • Severe pain not relieved by medicine

  • Bright red bleeding. This includes fast bleeding, spitting, or coughing up a large clot, or blood-tinged spit that continues

  • Trouble breathing

Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Infant under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead (temporal artery), or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.