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Before and after your child has had their tonsils or adenoids removed

The operation day

What time should I bring my child to the ward?

You will have received a letter telling you the date of your child’s operation and the time you need to bring them into hospital.

If your child’s operation is in the morning you need to arrive at 7.45am if your child is being admitted to the Theatre Admissions Unit (TAU).

If your child’s operation is in the afternoon you need to arrive at 12pm (midday) if your child is being admitted to Theatre Admissions Unit.

What should I do if my child is unwell or has a temperature a few days before or the day of their operation?

You need to telephone the hospital on 0114 271 7286 and tell us. You will then be told whether it would be safe for your child to have their operation as planned.

What time should I give my child their last food and drink?

If your child’s operation is in the morning they can eat until midnight and then have clear juice or water until 6am.


If the operation is in the morning they must not have anything after 6am or their operation may be cancelled. This includes no chewing gum.

If your child’s operation is in the afternoon they must have finished their breakfast by 7.30am. They can continue to drink clear juice or water until 11am.


If the operation is in the afternoon they must not have anything after 11am or their operation may be cancelled. This includes no chewing gum.

What will happen when we arrive on the ward?

An anaesthetist will visit your child and make sure they are fit for their operation. They may prescribe some numbing cream for your child’s hand so that it does not hurt when a tiny tube is inserted into your child’s had to allow the anaesthetic to be given. This tube is inserted when they are in the anaesthetic room.

The surgeon will also see you and your child before their operation.

A nurse will take your child’s temperature, weigh them and put their name band on their wrist. Your child will be asked to put on a theatre gown or their pyjamas. If your child has long hair they will need to tie it up in a ponytail with a non-metallic band. All jewellery and nail varnish must be removed. The nurse will then apply the numbing cream to their hands.

Your child will either walk or be taken to theatre on a trolley. One parent or guardian may go to the anaesthetic room and stay with them until they are asleep.

How long will the operation take?

Your child will be away from the ward for about 2 hours all together.

After the operation

Will I be there when my child wakes up?

The nurse in the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU) will contact you so that you can be with your child.

Will my child have any pain?

Your child will have been given some strong painkillers in theatre before they wake up.

They may have some pain later but the nurse will give them some medication to ease this.

When can my child have something to eat or drink?

As soon as your child is fully awake they will be able to have a drink.


It is best to avoid fizzy drinks until the day after their operation.

Your child may feel or be sick after their operation and you may notice that it is very dark red or brown in colour. This is normal. It is due to the small amount of blood your child will have swallowed during their operation.

Once your child has had a drink and not been sick they will be able to have a small amount to eat.

When can my child go home?

Your surgeon or nurse will have told you whether it is safe for your child to go home on the same day as their operation or whether they need to spend that night in hospital.

If your child has to stay in hospital you can sleep in a parent bed next to them.

At home

Is there anything special I have to do to look after them at home?


You must keep your child away from smoky environments and other people who have coughs and colds for the next 2 weeks

If you look in your child’s mouth after they have had their tonsils removed you will notice that their breath smells and that the area their tonsils were removed from looks white or yellowish in colour. This is quite normal.

You should not fly for about 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Other travel within this time should be limited to areas where medical support is easily available.

Will my child have any pain at home?

If your child has only had their adenoids removed the pain is usually quite mild and lasts for only a few days.

A tonsillectomy is more painful. The pain can last for 7 to 10 days, and usually at its worst 3 to 5 days after their operation.

Your child may complain of jaw and earache as well as a sore throat. This is normal.

You will be given some medicines which you must give to your child at home before they are discharged. It is extremely important that you give your child these medicines as it will help them to eat and drink. By eating and drinking normally this helps to reduce the risk of your child developing an infection and bleeding after their operation.

Encourage your child to drink as much fluid as possible (as long as they do not have another medical condition where fluids are restricted) in the days after surgery. Their urine should be pale or colourless, showing that it is nice and dilute and therefore they are drinking enough.


If your child has had their tonsils removed and you are finding it difficult to control their pain try giving them some chewing gum (if they are old enough), it often helps.

What are the complications I must look out for once we have been discharged home?

If you are unable to control your child’s pain despite giving them regular pain relief and they stop eating and drinking you need to telephone the hospital.

If your child develops a high temperature (above 38 degrees Celsius) you need to telephone the ENT ward 1 on 0114 271 7398.

If you notice any clots or bleeding more than half a teaspoon-full from your child’s nose or mouth you need to go to your nearest Emergency Department.

When can my child return to school or nursery?

If your child has only had their adenoids removed there is a lower risk of complications and so they can return 3 days after their operation.

If your child has had their tonsils removed it will take them longer to recover and there is a higher risk of infection. It is always sensible to inform schools that they may need up to 2 weeks off.

Will my child need to see their surgeon again?

After the operation the surgeon will decide whether this is needed.

If your child does need to be seen again you will be informed about this before your child is discharged home and an appointment will be sent to you in the post.

Further resources

Please read our resource for more information about risks of anaesthetics.

Contacts for more advice

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

Hospital switchboard

Available 24 hours every day

0114 271 7000 (main hospital number)

ENT nurse specialist

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Call 0114 271 7000 and ask to bleep 573

Call 0114 226 0511 (answer machine)

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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