Tonsillectomy/sleep Apnea

Updated on June 26, 2008
A.Y. asks from Shakopee, MN
12 answers

My oldest son is 12 and will be having his tonsils and adenoids (if they can find them) out in July after we have all lost count of how many times he has had strep. His doctor said my son has developed sleep apnea from his tonsils being so huge. We have talked with other doctors about his snoring and his tonsils always being swollen, but hadn't had previous success getting a doctor that really listened. Anyway, the Dr. has said that because my son has apnea, they want to keep him overnight to be sure he doesn't stop breathing while still recovering from the anesthesia. Any suggestions for how to make him comfortable while spending that 1st night after surgery away from home?

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answers from Des Moines on


If you think that he is going to be bothered by it maybe someone should stay the night with him. I'm glad to hear they are keeping him overnight...sometimes they just don't take the right precautions anymore, so it is nice to hear that some doctors still do.


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answers from Sioux Falls on

My son had his out this last school year and had to stay over night too, he refused to drink. I stayed with him, which helped but we learned some things if he ever has to stay again, I pray not. For instance the children's wing has nothing for older kids to do (the games they have were missing most of the pieces) and all the movies have to be VHS they don't have DVD players in the hospital, at least here in Sioux Falls . My husband ended up bringing us my sons Nintendo DS, UNO, a deck of cards and a coloring book. My son was very needy in the hospital and wanted me to play with him, but he did nap some (so whoever is waiting bring a book). Also check the meals you can get there before you go... do you get one with the room free? do you have to pay for all of them in the cafeteria? That kinda stuff...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Which hospital will he be recovering in? I ask because most of them will allow you to spend the night with him. It might make both of you feel better being close to each other. I'd ask your doctor...if your son is anything like mine, he'll want you with him.

Good luck!



answers from Omaha on


I to have a 12 yr. old daughter, she also has had strep many times, and her doctor also thought about removing her tonsils at one point. But Over the years as she gets older she seems to be catching strep less often (Lucky For Us!)

I'm not sure where your from (I'm New To This) but in omaha, Ne. most of our hospitals will let a parent stay with their child over night, so you can be close by. Just talk with your son's Dr. and the hospital where he will be staying to see if you can stay with him the day he has his surgery. Make sure to ask for a cot so you can sleep in the same room with him or ask where the waiting room is on his floor so you can be close by if he would need some comforting, this will help you as well when you know you can be right there if needed.

I hope this was some what helpful and Good Luck!!




answers from Madison on

Oh boy can I tell you about tonsils:) My 6 yr old when she was 4 had recurrent Strep throat, gagging issues, snoring, sleep apnea(stopping breathing and gasping for air) and was in the less than 10th percentile for her height and weight!! Her peds sent her to an ENT and he had us look and there were 2 huge red marble sized tonsils almost touching in the back of her throat! We had them and her adenoids out and even with the slight swelling the night after the surgery there was no snoring! She has not had anymore Strep or ear infections and not even that many colds. The gagging was gone so she started to eat like a horse and grew a ton in height and weight in just a month...Also, her 4 yr old brother when he was 2 had the same thing minus the gagging issues but he too was in the 10th percentile and had the whole snoring etc. SO, back to the same ENT who found the same thing plus recomended ear tubes because of fluid which was causing some hearing loss and lots of infections...after the surgery, only 1 ear infection in 2 yrs now and peaceful, quiet sleep at night. They both did fine with the surgery..they scheduled it early in the morning so they dont have to be without food and drink so long. They let me go back with them while they gave them the sleepy gas, and they start the IV after they are asleep. Most will let you back in the recovery room when they are waking up so that they see Mom and Dad right away. We brought some videos to pass the time while we were waiting for them to go to surgery and brought some little presents (Thomas trains or princess) to unwrap after to get their minds off the sore throat. Once they can drink and pee they can go home. They gave us liquid Tylenol with codeine which we alternated around the clock for the first 24 hrs..They were drinking Koolaid and having popsicles and chicken broth that night and by the next morning it was hard to keep them quiet on the couch!! Hope this helps, if you have any more questions you can email me at [email protected] Im in Madison and the surgeries were done at the UW Childrens Hospital here by Dr. McMurray from UW Health Physicians Plus.



answers from Davenport on

Every child is different, of course, but I think one of the best ways to help a child be comfortable is to help them to understand what to expect. Even at that age they need to be reassured that even though there's always some discomfort involved when someone has surgery they will try to make him as comfortable as possible (some discussion about anesthia and pain meds in terms he can understand is probably in order). If possible, visit the hospital before the surgery - maybe have a soda in the cafeteria and walk the halls a bit, peek into an empty room, if there's a children's wing/floor, visit there.

If possible consider taking a board or card game or movie to watch with him if he feels up to it. Let him decide if he wants someone to stay overnight with him, and if so, which parent.

That age is usually a funny mix of child and almost-adult, so often just providing information and the quiet reassurance of knowing you are there to watch over them if they want anything is all that's really needed.



answers from Minneapolis on

My son had his tonsils out at age 7 and he didn't spend the night, but I wished he had so it's probably a good thing he is staying the night. I almost had to bring him back in for dehydration. Our hospital gave the kids a tour in advance which was really helpful to prepare them for what to expect. Can one of you stay with him? That would probably provide the most comfort for him. My son was so out of it and so uncomfortable after the surgery that he wouldn't have been able to play any games, read, etc. He was also pretty drugged up. A warning--it was a miserable recovery period for about 9 days. Although the doctors warned us, it was worse than I expected. It was WORTH IT though. Our son too was suffering from repeated bouts of strep and since he was having allergic reactions to the antibiotics (including penicillin) they really needed to do something to stop the strep and get him off of the antibiotics. He hasn't had strep since he had his tonsils removed even though he's been exposed to it more than once. Every kid is different, but you should probably plan on two weeks before he gets back to his normal self and all of his regular activities. Good luck.

I should have added that this was 5 years ago so it's been 5 years without a case of strep (at least in that child!).



answers from Minneapolis on

I'm a night shift nurse at Children's Hospital in St Paul. I frequently take care of the children staying overnight after haveing a tonsilectomy. Some things you might want to know:
Your son will be woken up every 4 hours to be given pain medication even if he isn't in pain. Vital signs (temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure) and a check in his throat will be done at this time as well. A nurse will check on him every hour as well but won't wake him unless necessary.
He will have IV fluids running all night. This may cause extra trips to the bathroom.
He will be connected to a monitor to measue oxygenation. It is just plastic probe taped to his finger that lights up red to measure the oxygen in the capillaries. If he is not getting enough oxygen he will be connected to a nasal cannula or just have oxygen on blow-by (blown into his face though a tube). Most kids Do Not need any oxygen after a tonsilectomy.
He will be encouraged to drink fluids, eat ice cream or popsicles. If he refuses to take in any fluids by mouth he will have to spend another night at the hospital.
Children's Hospital has plenty of movies appropriate for pre-teens/teenagers and video games, you just need to ask.
Expect that you, the parent, won't sleep well. The short stay units do not have very comfortable beds for parents due to space constraints and nurses will be coming and going all night. Staying with your child is encouraged if you think he might react badly to his stay. At 12 years old he might not want you to stay.
The surgeon will come to check on him between 7-8am, if he is doing well, he will be discharged after breakfast.
I hope this helps.



answers from Cedar Rapids on

You've got some great ideas from mom's so far, so i'll just add that maybe you and your son could go to the store to buy a new toy or game or movie as a special treat for him to look forward to.

When I had my tonsills out i remember looking forward to only being able to eat popsicles! lol but i fast figured out that frozen pudding pops felt better on the still sore throat...

I did stay in the hospital after my surgery, i dont know why, but i remember wondering around the next day being really board. so definately take time passers and lots of them! :)

ps- i dont remember if there was bloody drool from tonsils or molars... so taking his pillow may not be best idea... i'd ask dr 1st.

Good Luck, and remember, if you keep your attitude about things positive, ie-"it's a fun adventure to stay in a hospital", he will likely do better, than if you're negative about it! ;)



answers from Omaha on

My daughter has had numerous ENT surgeries dealing with her sinuses, the last of which was a tonsillectomy, which helped considerably by the way!
We started preparing by purchasing the book Goodbye Tonsils. It is a bit elementary, but still provides good information and will help prepare him for exactly what is happening. My biggest fear (rightfuly so!) was keeping Jenna down following recovery so that bleeding didn't occur. We did this by purchasing her a GameBoy which I swore I would never do! :) Something else that helped pass the time while still in the hospital was playing board games. We were at a Children's Hospital so they had plenty of these available. If yours doesn't, it might pay to purchase some travel versions or card games prior to checking in. While each child is different, mine was eating ice cream and playing board games within an hour of returning to her room from surgery.
Once home, we purchased the syrup used to make sno cones and added to crushed ice for a soothing treat. (found it at Target) She also enjoyed scrambled eggs and well cooked mac n cheese quite soon. Best of luck to you; I hope that you have the same positive outcome we did!


answers from Milwaukee on

If possible I would check to see if you or your hubby could spend the night with your son in the hospital. I know the hospital is not the ideal place to get a peaceful rest but will help your son be more at home. Every child has a comfort parent so once you find out if you can stay over night ask your son who he wants to stay over night with him you or your husband... if this is an option, not sure if work schedules will allow for it (maybe take of a day or two so a parent can be with each kid, if possible).

Also bring along any comfort idea of your son's like his pillow, action figure, stuffed animal, and so on. Depending on when the surgery gets done there may still be time to pass before bed time so bring along 2 of his favorite DVD's, a book, other favorite activities (coloring, drawing, small bag of legos). Really just bring things along so that time can be passed, some time it takes the doc an extra hour or so to release the patient in the morning so having many things to pass the time while waiting is best.



answers from Milwaukee on

hi i am V. amy kids where 3 and 4 when i had the procedure done because they where so bad my son throat would close up at night he couldn't breath and it stop there snoring they would snore like bears and to be so little but they are doing fine now the dr. that did my kids procedure was dr. lui. my kids where there for about 8 hours after the surgey tell him he gets a lot popcisles

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