Children’s Services Colchester Hospital

Children’s Ward Tel: 01206 746208 or 746209

Children’s Elective Care Unit Tel: 01206 744237

What are tonsils?

Tonsils are important weapons in the body’s fighting ranks.

They can be seen on both sides of the throat and are the first guard against germs entering through the mouth.

When the body is battling bugs or infection, the tonsils grow big with their attacking forces. Sometimes they become infected themselves – this is called tonsillitis.

Children between the ages of three and seven often get a lot of colds so tonsils are generally bigger in this age group.

More Information

The surgeon carefully cuts away the infected tonsils while the child is under anaesthetic. After the operation the throat is sore but recovery is rapid.

Your child may have been considered for a day case tonsillectomy.

The purpose of removing the tonsils is to stop repeated attacks of tonsillitis or, less commonly, to make breathing easier where very bulky tonsils are causing or contributing to this.

There is a very small chance that there could be troublesome bleeding at the time that the tonsillectomy is carried out.

Should this occur it would, of course, be dealt with at once by the hospital doctors.

It is also possible that some infection might occur in the tonsil bed during the period of postoperative healing, that is, during the 2-3 weeks after the operation. Very occasionally this could also result in some bleeding.

By law we must obtain the written consent of a parent or guardian of the patient before any operation and some other procedures.

The adult accompanying the child must have the legal right to sign the consent form (mother/father/legal guardian).

If you are unsure about who can sign consent, please telephone before the admission date. If there is uncertainty the operation may have to be cancelled.

Staff will explain all the risks, benefits and alternatives before asking for a consent form to be signed. If you are unsure about any aspect of the proposed treatment, please do ask to speak to a senior staff member.

The following information explains how your child might feel after an operation, and how you can best care for him or her.

It is quite normal for your child to complain of a sore throat in the following 10 days.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen will usually be enough to relieve any pain and to enable him or her to eat and feel more comfortable. It is most beneficial if given 30 minutes before meals.

Your child will need regular pain relief for 7-10 days after their operation. It is helpful for parents to make a chart and keep a record of when they have given medicines.

To ensure that your child is as comfortable as possible, give paracetamol before: 

  • breakfast 
  • lunch 
  • tea 
  • parent bedtime (late evening) 

Give ibuprofen three times during the day, spaced regularly between the doses of paracetamol.

Always follow the instructions on the medicine bottle or packet and never give your child more than the recommended dose.

Once home, if you feel that your child needs more powerful pain relief you should call your GP. Your GP will have received a discharge summary, so will have details of the operation your child has had. You can also telephone the ward for advice.

As well as giving pain-relief medicines, distracting your child by playing games, watching TV or reading together can also help to keep your child’s mind off the pain.

Your child may feel sick for a short while after the anaesthetic. You should encourage your child to drink lots of fluid and return to a normal diet as soon as he or she can manage it.

The most important responsibility of a parent is to have a very positive attitude to eating and drinking in the week after the operation.

It is essential that your child eats normally – including crunchy foods such as crisps, toast, biscuits – which clears the tonsil bed of any debris and helps to avoid infection.

Your child may be tired and a little clumsy for 24 hours after the anaesthetic, so do not let him or her do anything that might lead to a fall.

Please keep your child indoors for 2-3 days after discharge and avoid crowded places and people with infections, such as a cold.

Your child should not return to school/playgroup until 14 days after leaving hospital.

  • If your child has any bleeding or vomiting of fresh blood in the week after the operation, report to your GP or take your child to the Emergency Department at the hospital immediately.
  • If your child is in a lot of pain and pain-relief medicine does not seem to help.
  • If your child is not drinking any fluids after the first day at home.
  • If your child develops a temperature or becomes unwell.


No routine outpatient appointment is needed.

If you are worried about your child, please contact the people in the order set out below: Your GP Children’s Ward on 01206 746208 or 746209 Children’s Elective Care Unit (CECU) on 01206 744237 Children’s Emergency Department on 01206 742847.

If you have any questions regarding this information please do not hesitate to ask a nurse who is caring for your child or the doctor who will see your child before discharging them.