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After Tonsillectomy, Over-the-Counter Painkillers Suffice, Study Says

THURSDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- An over-the-counter painkiller is as effective as prescription drugs in controlling pain after people have their tonsils removed, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at 25 children and adults and found that ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) managed their pain after tonsillectomy as well as the prescription pain medications acetaminophen (Tylenol) with hydrocodone, and acetaminophen with codeine, which is no longer recommended for use in children.

"Based on this study and the FDA warning about the risks of children taking any medication with codeine, we recommend that children receive over-the-counter ibuprofen after a tonsillectomy," study author Dr. Robert Standring, in the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, said in a system news release.

In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended that children not be given medication with codeine because of safety concerns.

"Ibuprofen appears to be the safest alternative that still provides adequate pain control for children," Standring said.

The study was presented Oct. 1 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in Vancouver.

In the United States, tonsillectomy is the second most common outpatient surgery for children younger than 15. Each year, an estimated 662,000 American children have a tonsillectomy.

Pain is a major issue following a tonsillectomy, and can lead to dehydration, difficulty swallowing and weight loss. These problems can lead to more postoperative visits and hospital readmission.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery has more about tonsillectomy.

SOURCE: Henry Ford Health System, news release, Oct. 1, 2013

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