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What is a tonsillectomy?

It is an operation in which the tonsils are removed. Tonsils are lymphatic tissue located at the back of the mouth.

Tonsils may become repeatedly infected and, if large, can cause problems with eating and breathing.

How long will it take?

The operation takes about 1 hour. This includes the anaesthetic, the operation and the time spent in the recovery room. Your child will be required to stay in hospital overnight and will have an intravenous drip until time of discharge.

When can my child eat and drink again?

If your child is awake on return to the ward, they can have clear fluids and diet on request as tolerated.


Take your child to your GP or present to Children's emergency department. 

Care at home

Pain relief

  • Have some paracetamol at home. It can be given as per the instructions on the product packaging for the first 3 – 5 days after the operation to relieve discomfort.
  • Give other pain relief medicine if advised.
  • Do not give aspirin 2 weeks before or after the operation.
  • Nurofen (ibuprofen) should be avoided for 1 week prior to tonsillectomy if possible. Only use nurofen in the 2 weeks after the operation if you have discussed this with your surgeon.
  • Your child may be prescribed oxycodone after the surgery. This is a very strong pain medication and should only be used as directed when your child is not coping with other medication. It should not be used as the routine pain reliever after the surgery. Do not continue to give this medication if your child becomes drowsy or has difficulty breathing.

Diet and fluids

  • Encourage a normal diet. Chewing helps the healing process. If your child refuses to eat or drink, contact your GP or the Doctor's rooms. Providing pain relief prior to meals may relieve discomfort whilst eating meaning your child will be more likely to eat a normal diet. Chewing gum is recommended as it stimulates saliva flow and exercises the muscles of the throat.


  • Feeling nauseous and vomiting is a possible after effective of an anaesthetic, but if this persists you should seek medical attention.
  • Vomiting may occur post operatively and can contain old blood. If this persists or contains bright red blood please contact Mater Children's Private Brisbane.


  • If bleeding occurs from the nose or mouth, please return your child to the hospital immediately, or call 000.
  • Excessive swallowing may indicate that your child is bleeding and swallowing the blood.

Points to remember

  • Observe for bleeding from the nose/mouth or excessive swallowing. If bleeding does occur take your child to the nearest Emergency Department immediately. Give regular pain relief.
  • Take your child to your GP or present to Children's emergency department if there is excessive vomiting, persistent high temperatures or if your child refuses to eat or drink.
  • Earache is usual after this procedure.
  • Bad breath is common for 2 weeks following the procedure.
  • Vigorous activities or sport should be avoided for 2 weeks.
  • Child may return to school after 14 days. If concerned, please contact your GP prior to your child returning to school.

Follow up visit

An appointment will either be given to you when your child is discharged or posted out to you.

Emergency contact

To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your closest hospital that treats children.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.

Contact Mater Children’s Private Brisbane

Salmon Building, level 5 and 7

Raymond Terrace

South Brisbane QLD 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111



Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-470040
Last modified 03/4/2019.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 23/4/2015
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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