Help ease my post tonsillectomy pain!
May 25, 2011 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Post-Tonsillectomy Question: Any tips on making swallowing liquids/solid foods easier, sooner?

I'm a 28 year old male, and I'm on day 9 post tonsillectomy. Well, actually, I had a tonsillectomy, UPPP (removal of Uvula), nasal septoplasty, and a turbinate reduction. The nose stuff has been a breeze, barely noticeable compared to the tonsillectomy.

So yeah, it's day 9, and I've barely moved beyond fluids (water, gatorade, vitamin water) to solid foods. Actually, I wouldn't even say I've gotten to solid foods, I've been able to handle scrambled eggs, but noodles were too much for me.

My surgeon loaded me up with painkillers, but I stopped taking them on around day 6. The reason I stopped taking them was that the only real pain and discomfort I feel is with regards to swallowing, and the painkillers literally do NOTHING to address that pain. So anyways, I'm done with the painkillers (percocets made me have crazy-person dreams, LOL).

So, to anyone who's had this surgery done, do you have any suggestions to help me out here? Do I just have to wait this out?
posted by smitt to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Hey! try humidifiers.

I am so not kidding. Get crazy with it. "Grow bamboo in my bedroom" levels.
posted by adipocere at 6:57 AM on May 25, 2011

I had exactly the same procedures as you in February, to correct my sleep apnea.

Have you talked to your doctor about a different form of painkiller? My doctor gave me Percocet to start with, and a liquid form of codeine/tylenol combo for later on. The liquid was thick, like cough syrup, and the doses came in little one-shot cups. It seemed to help my pain quite a bit without making me feel too dopey-druggy.

I was punctual about taking my meds every four hours, which helped keep the pain down.

I also followed the recovery instructions to the letter. I drank my fluids, did my saline rinses, and got my 60g of protein every day. My doctor was very pleased at the speed of my recovery, and I'd like to think it was because I followed the instructions carefully, but perhaps I was also a bit lucky.

The surgery changed my life. I feel better every day and no longer need a CPAP to sleep. My wife tells me I'm much more even-keeled and positive. Good luck with your recovery!
posted by Fleebnork at 7:13 AM on May 25, 2011

When I got my tonsils out (as a little kid, not an adult) I refused food and water so long that I had to have an IV to rehydrate. What I remember being able to tolerate was jello. Once I could get jello down, it seemed like the pain in my throat lessened day after day. Nine days does seem like a long time to me. Have you called (or had someone else call on your behalf) your doctor and ask them if this is the normal course of recovery? Good luck.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:15 AM on May 25, 2011

Best answer: Here is another recent thread about this.
My suggestion was, and is:

Sore throat comfort strategies, from a not-your-nurse who used to take care of a lot of tonsillectomy kids:
1. Use tepid or slightly warm liquids for drinking, not cold or icy. It will be more comfortable long term, even tho cold drinks may feel good for a few minutes. Go for bland bland bland foods, not too sweet, not too salty.
2. Don't take tiny sips. Take medium sized gulps. They say it actually hurts less, plus you have to swallow fewer times for the same amount of fluids/food. Tip your chin down towards your chest to swallow. It open up the throat and makes it easier.
2. Time your liquids and meals for about a half hour after your pain medicine. Plan ahead. Make sure to get liquids in first, before solids.
3. You may want to avoid milk and ice cream. They often cause mucus in the throat.

Good luck!
posted by SLC Mom at 7:49 AM on May 25, 2011

When I had three wisdom teeth pulled, I lived on yogurt for days.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:11 AM on May 25, 2011

I had an adult tonsillectomy in 2006. What got me through the sore-swallowing period was making lots of smoothies (cooling, nutritious, easy), sleeping a lot and playing games that took my mind off it (EVE Online is ACE when you're trying not to focus on pain).

I also drank pints and pints of water, near constantly.

The pain should begin to fade in the next 2-3 days, but you'll have a weird metallic blood taste for a good 3 or 4 weeks yet.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:59 AM on May 25, 2011

I'm not an ENT, but for my patients who are having really bad mouth pain (like ulceration in their mouths etc), I sometimes recommend lidocaine gel. There are a number of over the counter preparations that include benzocaine and lidocaine, which serve as topical anesthetics. You could check with your surgeon to see if it's OK with them to use these types of medications. They do make your mouth numb through so that makes eating things less satisfying.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:50 PM on May 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thank again for the tips everyone...

The humidifier was a nice relief, helped a lot. Luckily it had been pretty humid to begin with, so I never felt too dry.

I wasted a lot of time being kind of scared of drinking because it hurt a lot... Gulping bigger amounts, rather than sipping tiny amounts, helped a lot and actually hurt less. Wish I'd known that to begin with.

Getting off the painkillers helped me along a lot too. I don't like 'em, shoulda stopped using them when their effect stopped making a difference on my pain (day 6ish).

The UPPP procedure (removal of my uvula) made the pain worse than just a simple tonsillectomy, but it was hard to separate the pain from the two to begin with. Tonsillectomy + UPPP is paiiinful.
posted by smitt at 7:46 AM on June 9, 2011

Glad to hear you're doing better!
posted by Fleebnork at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2011

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