Whether it is you, your child or a loved one the idea of having tonsils removed can make you nervous. The best way to address the anxiety you might feel is to have complete information on what to expect. It’s the fear of the unknown that makes us uneasy. Here’s what you need to know about having tonsils removed.

Reason for tonsil surgery

Tonsils play an important role in the immune system. They aren’t removed unless they have become enlarged causing a dangerous condition such as sleep apnea. They are also removed if you have recurring throat or tonsil infections.

Whatever the reason for the surgery, rest assured that your ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist has looked at the alternative treatments and procedures and is recommending surgery because it is the best solution.

What to expect on the day of surgery

The tonsils are removed in a procedure known as a tonsillectomy. This surgery is performed on an outpatient or “day surgery” basis. That means an overnight stay is not required.

You will be given instructions to follow the night before surgery. This includes fasting from food and water. The ENT isn’t trying to starve you; they just want to eliminate the risk of vomiting as a result of the anesthesia. In addition, you will need to stop smoking and chewing gum as well.

Arrive at the surgical center in loose comfortable clothing. Bring along a comforting toy or blanket if needed. Bring extra clothing, diapers or underwear. You may need them. If the tonsils to be removed are yours, make sure you have a friend or family member to drive you home.

What to expect after surgery

You will be asleep during the entire procedure. You may be given medication such as midazolam before the anesthesia to relieve any anxiety and to induce amnesia of the event.

After surgery, the next stop is the recovery room. The recovery room is where nurses monitor you. If the surgery is for your child, you will be able to be with your child in the recovery room. Adults and children are both encouraged to drink right after surgery. This begins the recovery process.

Once your condition is stable, you will be released for home care. You will be given exact instructions for at home care. It is important to follow these instructions for the quickest and least painful recovery period.

Recovering at home

Once at home, it is important to follow the doctor’s instructions exactly. That means drink plenty of clear liquids in the first day after surgery. If you do not have post-surgery nausea you can eat soft food that is easy to swallow.

You will be prescribed medication to combat pain. Always follow instructions on correct dosage and timing. Take pain medication as prescribed and don’t wait for pain to return before taking the medication.

Sit and sleep with your upper body elevated. Not only will this reduce swelling it will help snoring as well. Some snoring after surgery is normal, elevation keeps it to a minimum.

Call the doctor or go to the emergency room if you experience fever or chills, bleeding with bright red blood, excessive pain or the inability to urinate 12 hours after surgery.

You can return to work or your child can return to school when pain medication is no longer necessary and you are sleeping comfortably through the night.

If you have questions or concerns about tonsil surgery, be sure to address them with the ENT. They will be more than happy to ease your fears and answer your questions.