Tonsillectomy in Adults – Know the Probable Complications

tonsillectomy in adults

What is tonsillectomy?

Tonsillectomy is a process of eliminating the tonsils. The process of tonsillectomy in adults will take only 30 to 45 minutes and is generally carried out as an outpatient at a Same Day Surgery Center under common anesthesia. Usually, the patient will stay in the revival room for one or two hours for observation after tonsillectomy. Tonsils are habitually removed for recurring or unceasing tonsil diseases or strep throat, which cannot be treated successfully by antibiotics. The tonsils are the lymphoid tissues of the immune system in the rear of the mouth.

Learn about – How to get rid of Tonsil Stones

Tonsillectomy will be carried out safely and with care so as to get the best possible effects. The surgery may entail risks of complications, unproductive results, or wound from both known and unknown reasons. As individuals fluctuate in their reaction to surgery, their anesthetic responses, and their healing results, eventually, there can be no promise made as to the outcomes or possible complications. Moreover, surgical results may be reliant on preexisting or coexisting medical conditions.

Possible complications of tonsillectomy in adults

Tonsillectomy in adults will show a way to potential complications subsequent to undergoing the tonsils removal procedure. These include:


Roughly 2 to 5% of adult patients who have undergone tonsillectomy will suffer from bleeding subsequent to the surgery. With the exemption of small blood specks in the saliva or from the nose, bright red blood should not be observed. If such blood loss happens, it is safe to contact your doctor immediately, and you can even call an ambulance if essential. Bleeding is a warning that the scabs have dropped too early, and instant medical attention is necessary.


Some adult patients experience considerable dehydration after tonsillectomy, owing to the soreness with swallowing and may need intravenous liquids in the emergency section. You are supposed to urinate at least two times a day. If not, you have to get in touch with your physician and discuss the problem in detail. Other complications include prolonged soreness, and, or impaired curing that could show the way to the need for hospital admittance for liquids and, or soreness control.

Sore Throats or Strep Throat

When the tonsils are eliminated to wipe out strep throat or chronic and unceasing painful throats, it is uncommon for these indications to persist or not improve. Other complications include, failure to ease every incident of sore throat, or resolve later or coexisting ear infections or nasal drainage.

Airway hindrance

In the adult patients with sleep disorder, undergoing a tonsillectomy, the hindrance may get worse in the premature post-operative course, generally during the initial 24 hours after the surgery. This is usually, owing to swelling in the rear of the throat and may be because of anesthesia and pain medicines, as well. These patients may need overnight hospitalization for surveillance. If the patient is treated with the continuous positive airway pressure machine, he/she will have to wear this machine after tonsillectomy.


It is a rare complication in adults who have undergone tonsillectomy will be an everlasting change in nasal or voice regurgitation.

Perioperative guidelines

The before and after instructions, mentioned below can assist you get the best possible effects from your tonsillectomy.

Before tonsillectomy

If you are an adult to undertake tonsillectomy, inform your physician all the herbal supplements and medications you are taking before undertaking the surgery. This comprises both over the counter and prescription medications.

If you suffer from a cold or any other disease during the two weeks before surgery, it is safe to inform your physician immediately. The physician may postpone the surgery pending the sickness resolves.

Night before tonsillectomy

Do not drink or consume anything later than midnight unless instructed by the anesthesiologist to do so. If you drink or consume later than midnight, your doctor will cancel the surgery. You can persist to drink liquids until midnight.

Remove all make-up, nail polish and jewelry, such as earrings, watches, necklaces, and all body piercings etc.

After tonsillectomy 

When you return home after your tonsillectomy, consider spending 10 to 14 days away from work. This time structure is provided as a rule since the recovery time of each individual will vary. It is better to postpone out of city plans for a minimum period of two weeks after tonsillectomy. The following instructions are suggested for the possible complications.

Pain: All adult tonsillectomy patients will have gentle to harsh throat soreness for 7 to 14 days after the surgery, but potentially equal to three weeks. Some patients may as well, complain of the referred soreness in their neck, ear, or jaw. To have better control over the pain, your doctor will recommend the pain medicine after your surgery. It is vital to dose the medicine in milliliters in a supplied syringe, but not to be dosed in tablespoons or teaspoons, owing to the potential complications.

Diet and Drinking: The vital thing for recovery from tonsillectomy is to drink abundance of liquids. You may drink water, decaffeinated soft drinks, non-acidic juice, and popsicles. It is better to stay away from milk products during the initial 24 hours, but subsequently the patient may consume pudding, ice cream and yogurt. Some adult patients may experience complications, such as vomiting and nausea for the initial one to two days following the surgery. These complications happen due to the general anesthesia and will resolve on their own.

Gradually advance to a soft diet as accepted. The patient has to consume soft food for 7 to 10 days after tonsillectomy. Excluding shunning the milk products for the opening day, there are no other severe limitations. Soft foods, such as pasta, potatoes, eggs, and bread can be consumed. Shun foods, such as pizza, toast, potato chips and other scratchy foods for a minimum period of two weeks. The earlier you eat and chew, the faster the recovery. Adult tonsillectomy patients may be unwilling to consume due to throat soreness, and some weight loss may take place, which will be regained rapidly once they resume a usual diet.

Fever: A low-score fever 99.0 degree F to 101.0 degree F may be observed for some days in adults after the surgery. If the temperature goes beyond 102 degree F, it is better to contact your doctor.

Activity: Prevention of tiring activity is necessary for 7 to 10 days after tonsillectomy. Bed rest, with the head somewhat elevated on 2 to 3 pillows is positive for the first two days. Activity must be restricted to soft indoor activities. After a week, the activity may be amplified gradually. The tonsillectomy patient may return to work once resuming usual drinking and eating, and pain medicine is no longer necessary. There is no involvement of lifting heavy objects, athletic activities, games or straining for two weeks. Travelling outside home is not suggested for two weeks after following tonsillectomy. A shower or bath is acceptable at any time. An ice pack can bring some relief to the throat and assist with swelling.

When to call your physician

When you experience the following symptoms after tonsillectomy, it is safe and better to call your doctor to avoid making the symptoms worse. You can call your doctor when you experience:

  1. Increased drainage or bleeding from the mouth or nose.
  2. Fever more than 101.5 degrees.
  3. Harsh pain not relieved by medicine.
  4. Difficulty in swallowing or breathing.
  5. Vomiting more than two times in a day, after the initial 24 hours of tonsillectomy.
  6. Hives or Rashes that appear subsequent to taking prescription medicines.


It is quite common that tonsillectomy in adults may bring some complications. However, these can be avoided if proper remedial measures are taken at a proper time. Remember that an appropriate discussion with your physician may avoid worsening these complications to a great extent.