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Open wide, It's tonsil time!


Have you ever heard your doctor say “Open Wide?” When your doctor says this it means they want to look at the back of your throat where two grape-like tonsils are. Tonsils are oval-shaped and there is one on the left side and one on the right side.

Tonsils have a very important job for your body: to protect the inside of your body from getting invaded by germs, or groups of tiny and sneaky living creatures, and making you sick. You can think of tonsils as a bodyguard for the inside of your body.

The tonsils are the two red oval-shaped

things in the back of this child’s throat.


Has the back of your throat ever felt very painful and sore? The pain that you feel is from your tonsils getting invaded by germs. There are two types of germs that can invade your tonsils and make you sick: bacteria and viruses. Bacteria are tiny creatures that get their nutrients to survive from the environment, and viruses are tiny creatures that need to be inside another living creature in order to survive.

When germs get into your body and invade your tonsils, your tonsils will be unable to complete their job of protecting the inside of your body. Your may hear your doctor use the word tonsilitis when your tonsils get invaded by these germs. Tonsilitis is a fancy word for saying that a germ got into your body and is why you are feeling sick. When you have tonsilitis, your tonsils will be red, swollen, feel sore, there may be yellow and white on your tonsils, and you may have bad breath, a headache, and a stomachache.

A photo that is showing the difference between

what normal tonsils look like and what tonsils invaded by germs look like.


A common way to cure tonsilitis is your doctor giving you a type of medicine called antibiotics. Many times these antibiotics will be able to cure your invaded tonsils, but what happens if they do not work, and your tonsils keep getting invaded with germs and keep getting large, making it hard to breath while sleeping? If this happens to you, your doctor might want you to have something called a tonsillectomy. A tonsillectomy is a fancy word for a surgery, where doctors fix your germ-invaded tonsils, by taking your tonsils out of your throat so you can stop getting sick so much and start feeling better.


When someone needs to have a surgery, they might be admitted to the hospital. Admitted to the hospital means someone has to stay at the hospital just like when you go to sleep over someone’s house. When you get admitted to the hospital for a surgery and before your surgery, you will check in at a desk on the floor you will be staying on.

When you first arrive at the hospital you will see your parents fill out a lot of different papers, that have important information for the hospital staff to know like your name, address, phone number, if you take any medications, and if you have any allergies.

After your parents fill out all the different papers a a group of hospital staff called transport people will bring you to your room on a big bed with wheels called a gurney or stretcher. In your room you will see a bed, buttons on your bed to move it up and down, a curtain around the bed so you can have privacy, a special button to push if you need the nurses for anything, a bathroom, and a television.

When you stay overnight at the hospital you can bring some of your favorite items to make the hospital feel less scary like pictures from home, stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, and any toys or books you want to use when you are done with your surgery. The hospital will also give you a hospital gown and slipper socks to wear but you can always bring your own pajamas from home.

Pictured above is what a gurney

Pictured above is what a hospital

gown and slipper socks look like.

When you stay overnight at the hospital you will see many different hospital staff .They all may have different roles at the hospital but they all have one very important job in common: to make people feel better while they are at the hospital. You will see a group of people called nurses on the floor you will be staying on. Nurses help you get settled at the hospital, show you where everything is on the floor you will be staying on, check on you throughout the day and night to see how you are feeling and if you need anything, and will give you any medicine if your doctor thinks you need any.

You will also see people who are called Child Life Specialists. These people are like hospital teachers. Their jobs are to help children understand what is going on when they come to the hospital and to help them feel more comfortable while being at the hospital. Child Life Specialists will also bring you toys and activities that you can use while you are in the hospital.


When you have a tonsillectomy, the transport people at the hospital will bring you from your room to a place called the operating room (OR). This is a room in the hospital where surgery takes place. A doctor called a surgeon will work on or inside someone’s body to fix what is wrong in order to help the person feel better and not feel sick anymore.

Before the surgeon takes out your tonsils, a hospital staff person called an anesthesiologist will give you sleepy medicine to make you take a nap during the surgery so you won’t feel any pain. When you get this medicine you will only stay sleeping during the surgery, but when you wake up you may feel very tired like when you first wake up from a deep sleep. The anesthesiologist may give you the sleepy medicine through an IV, or a tiny straw that that carries medicine into your body through veins, which are the blue lines on your arms and hands. You may also get the sleepy medicine through a mask that goes over your nose and mouth, and gets taken off you once you fall asleep. A Child Life Specialist can help you pick out a nice smelling scented chap stick to put on the inside of the mask so you don’t have to smell the sleepy medicine.

A tonsillectomy usually takes as long as one episode of your favorite television show. When you get any kind of surgery, you will have to stop eating any food or drinks after the dinner the night before because you can not have surgery when your stomach is full. After your tonsillectomy, you will be able to eat soft foods like ice cream, Jell-O, and soup, and drink juice and water. Your doctors may want you to stay overnight after your surgery is over so they can make sure you are doing well, but the hospital will let one of your parents stay with you at all times.

This is a what the operating room may look like.

This is what an IV looks like.

If your child is having a tonsillectomy or other surgery, and you need more help supporting them for their procedure, please reach out to Kids Can Cope LLC!

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