You were told that you would be in pain for a while after surgery. You might not be able to move, you shouldn’t make any tough decisions and you definitely shouldn’t drive—but right now you would just give anything to make the room stop spinning.
Vomiting and nausea from anesthesia is the second most commonly reported post-surgical complaint. Only pain is more troubling to a patient who is recovering from a procedure, but there are many pain medications that are effective in treating discomfort. Nausea, however, is more difficult to control.
You Can Help Stop Nausea After Surgery!
There are a few options available to help patients suffering nausea after surgery, including:
- Adequate hydration – Many patients become nauseated due to dehydration, commonly resulting from the inability to eat or drink before their surgery. Dehydration causes low blood pressure, which can contribute to queasiness. Patients should begin rehydrating as soon as possible after surgery. If the gag reflex is too strong, doctors can administer IV fluids.
- Anti-emetics – These medications block the transmission of messages to the specific brain receptors that control nausea. Your doctor should assess your medical history and risk factors to determine if you may benefit from a single drug therapy or a combination of receptor blockers.
- Alternative medicines – If the patient cannot tolerate antiemetic drugs, he may benefit from over-the-counter remedies such as antacids or ginger root tablets.
- Acupuncture – If other methods fail, patients may wish to try acupuncture to interrupt the vomiting reflex. Studies have shown that stimulation of acupuncture point P6 on the wrist is more effective than a placebo in preventing nausea and vomiting.
- Immobility – Actions that involve concentration or changes in perception—such as reading or riding in a car—will likely make symptoms worse. The patient can remain immobile with their eyes closed in a dimly lit room to help remove additional stimuli to the brain, calming his system while he waits for the anesthesia leave his system.
Nausea is not just an unpleasant side effect—it’s a life-threatening condition. Many patients die each year as a result of vomit aspiration while under anesthesia, and those who survive may suffer lung conditions or pneumonia as a result. Read the links on this page to find out more about the dangers of anesthesia aspiration.