What Causes Diarrhea After Tonsillectomy? 3 Post-operative Care Tips to Prevent It!

If you are just out of a tonsillectomy, chances are you will develop a fever, sore throat, or diarrhea shortly after the procedure. This problem can be caused by the surgery itself or an infection in the throat.

In most cases, these symptoms go away within a week or two. However, the symptoms may be chronic in a few cases and last for almost 4 to 5 weeks. Diarrhea after tonsillectomy is a common symptom in both children and adults, but it is nothing to worry about! 

All surgeries are taxing, both physically and emotionally. A critical surgery on your throat, such as a tonsillectomy, can be even more frustrating. Good news is that you can easily treat it through a few changes, especially in your diet.  

Read on to find out more details to better understand the reasons behind upset stomach and diarrhea after surgery and what you can do about it!

When your intestines are not working properly, the food does not pass out quickly, resulting in constipation.

Is It Normal to Get Diarrhea After Tonsillectomy?

When you’ve just had a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy, you may feel like there’s something wrong with your digestive tract. Fortunately, it’s not uncommon, so you need not worry about it much!

Tonsillectomy can cause mild-to-severe discomfort in the days following surgery, especially related to digestion. Some patients may suffer from post-surgery sore throat, pain in the neck or jaw, nausea, vomiting, constipation, coughing, and even diarrhea. 

Talking about diarrhea, in particular, this condition occurs in up to 25 percent of patients after the surgery. The symptoms of diarrhea can include watery stools and an urgent need to go to the toilet. This is sometimes known as post-tonsillectomy diarrhea or PTTD. 

diarrhea-after-tonsillectomy

You may also face difficulty swallowing the saliva due to the swelling and pain, giving you a perception of mucous in your throat. Most patients tend to spit it out since swallowing it is painful. However, that is not the right way forward! 

No matter how much it hurts, you need to swallow your saliva to ensure you do not get dehydrated. But how long does mucus last after tonsillectomy

It depends on how fast your body heals and the strength of your immune system. The faster your tonsil scab heals, the earlier you will be able to get rid of mucus in your throat. 

So, “How many days recovery after tonsillectomy is required?” The truth is, while most of these symptoms usually go away in a few days, some patients can experience them for weeks or months. In case of such a condition, immediately consult your doctor to rule out the cause for proper treatment. 

What Causes Diarrhea After Tonsillectomy?

If you’ve had a tonsillectomy, chances are you’re already suffering from the side effects of post-surgical diarrhea. This brings us to the most frequently asked question, “Why do I have diarrhea after tonsillectomy?”

One of the most common causes of diarrhea is an infection, particularly by Salmonella, Clostridium difficile, or Campylobacter bacteria. The reasons for this post tonsillectomy infection vary among different cases. However, it is usually either due to post-op antibiotics or a surge in gut flora due to decreased absorption. 

Moreover, an increased fluid level in the body may also cause watery stools, leading to diarrhea. Besides the IV fluids, the doctors also recommend increased fluids to provide the tonsil scab a better chance of recovery. 

diarrhea-after-tonsillectomy

Since you may not be able to take solids for a while, you will also notice an unintentional increase in dairy in your diet which could be a probable cause of diarrhea.  

Now that we know vomiting and diarrhea after tonsillectomy are normal, is it normal to not poop after tonsillectomy too? Absolutely! The painkillers you take are the leading cause of constipation since they also work as a contraction inhibitor for the smooth muscles throughout your digestive system. 

When your intestines are not working properly, the food does not pass out quickly, resulting in constipation. Besides pain relievers, the surgery also demands admission of saliva-blocking medicine to inhibit the suction near your tonsils during surgery. 

This medicine is not exclusive to the salivary glands. It acts all over the body to reduce the water content in the body or the “Juices,” resulting in an abnormal bowel movement. Additionally, a few other medicines, such as anti-histamines and multi-vitamins, may also have this effect on your body. 

The only way to correctly assess why you might be facing these symptoms and treat them is to know the exact cause. This can be done through a stool culture and some blood tests easily.

How to Prevent Diarrhea After Tonsillectomy? 

If you are considering having your tonsils removed, it is crucial to know how to prevent post-surgery diarrhea. 

There are tons of things that can cause post-tonsillectomy diarrhea, so we created this guide on what to do if you end up with the dreaded side effect after your surgery. Learn how to relieve your symptoms, prevent complications, and return to feeling like yourself again.

Take Antibiotics and Probiotics 

Make sure you take your medicines prescribed by your doctor consistently to prevent any infection. Since the most common cause of diarrhea after surgery treatment is a bacterial infection, it is evident that you need antibiotics to keep the surgical site safe from infections. 

antibiotic

On the other hand, probiotics enhance your gut health by removing harmful bacteria. This prevents diarrhea and improves bowel movements to keep the immunity in check. 

Pain Management 

Pain management after a tonsillectomy is crucial since swallowing soft; liquid stuff is essential for your healing process. A patient in pain will not be able to take in food or water, resulting in weakness and dehydration

Make sure you take the right dosage of pain killers prescribed by your doctors; otherwise, it may end up in diarrhea. You only need to tolerate the pain for 10 to 14 days, after which it starts getting better, given you take proper care!

Avoid Over-Consumption of Dairy and Fibres

After going through a tonsillectomy, the doctors usually advise taking as much liquid and soft food as possible. This includes juices, smoothies, puddings, ice creams, and popsicles. 

However, you may have to be careful when consuming dairy and fibrous products. If you are seeing a difference in your normal bowel movement, it could be due to over-consumption of dairy items. Cut down on the intensity of dairy in your diet; however, if it does not come down from 3 loose stools a day, you should see a doctor. 

FAQs

Why is there diarrhea after tonsillectomy?

There may be multiple reasons for severe diarrhea after tonsillectomy. However, the most obvious is due to bacterial overgrowth post-surgery. This reduces the overall nutrient absorption, leading to diarrhea and dehydration. Food that is generally hard to digest, such as fibers and dairy, also cause runny diarrhea after tonsillectomy. Hence, you should take proper care of your oral intake and diet to prevent further complications. 

Is it normal to have diarrhea after surgery?

It is normal to have diarrhea after surgery since your body is recovering from a significant setback. Surgeries involving the digestive tract are more prone to give rise to symptoms of diarrhea due to irregular bowel movements. The post-op medications, including the pain-relievers and antibiotics, also contribute to diarrhea after surgery which usually goes away on its own in a few days.  

What are the signs of infection after tonsillectomy?

Some of the most common signs of infection after tonsillectomy include redness, swelling, fever, red streaks, and pus draining from the area. It is the same as an infection after any other surgery, except that the area around the throat becomes extremely sensitive. You can also get a stool culture done to see if there is any bacterial infection. 

How long does it take for bowels to return to normal after surgery?

In acute diarrhea, the bowels return to normal after a few days with a proper diet. However, some people may experience episodes of chronic diarrhea, which needs proper diagnosis and treatment. Constipation also typically takes almost the same amount of time to be treated. However, your doctor may prescribe a laxative or stool softener. 

Final verdict 

Diarrhea after tonsillectomy, or as a matter of fact, any surgery, is normal. However, acute diarrhea, a side effect of surgery, should go away on its own after 2 to 3 days. If the condition persists, it means you need to have a detailed check-up by your doctor.

If your child has diarrhea after tonsillectomy, you need to be even more vigilant and take them to a doctor if diarrhea picks up pace after 24 hours. Since children are weak, they may get dehydrated quickly from frequent diarrhea.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways that can help ease the pain and speed recovery after a tonsillectomy. With proper care, you can recover in no time at all!

Marium Sohail

Marium Sohail

Marium Sohail is an MBBS student at Karachi Medical And Dental College, Pakistan. Besides spending a major chunk of her time studying about the human body, she love breaking down the what's and how's of medicine for people through her writing. During her free time, she can be found with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

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