Honey May Reduce Pain after Tonsillectomy Surgery

Honey May Reduce Pain after Tonsillectomy Surgery

Healing with Honey

The Egyptians utilized honey to aid in wound healing starting thousands of years ago. The Greek father of medicine Hippocrates also promoted the use of honey for the cleansing of sores. In the second half of the twentieth century, Western scientists began studying honey and have documented its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has also proven advantageous in clinical trials for the treatment of surgical wounds.

Tonsillectomy has been for years and remains today one of the most common surgical procedures performed on children. The surgeons of North Carolina Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat have performed over 200 procedures a year for the past 65 years. The prevalence of significant postoperative pain and the need for postoperative analgesic medication is well documented, but pain is often incompletely controlled with commonly-prescribed medications such as Tylenol and narcotics. Additionally, pain medication can cause side effects such as nausea, constipation, and sedation.

Tonsillectomy Pain Relief

The authors of a recent study published in the Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine journal hypothesized that honey may speed wound healing and reduce pain levels in children after tonsillectomy. They included children ages 8-15 years who underwent tonsillectomy. The children received acetaminophen (the ingredient in Tylenol) and were randomly assigned to receive either 1 teaspoon of honey or the same amount of a simple sugar syrup with a similar consistency. Neither the doctors nor the patients knew which treatment the children were receiving. Treatment continued for five days, and the parents were asked to record subjective pain scores and the amount of acetaminophen given. For the first three days, pain scores were significantly lower in the honey group, and for all five days, the amount of pain medication given was lower in the honey group.

These are certainly interesting results for those of us who perform tonsillectomy, and it suggests that honey may be a reasonable addition to traditional pain medication for our patients. The authors do note that certain groups, such as infants and diabetics, would not be good candidates due to the potential for harm from ingesting honey, but for the majority of children, this may be a good option.  If you are considering tonsillectomy surgery in Durham, NC, please call us at NCEENT.