Preventing Nausea After Surgery
Anesthesia will put you to sleep and prevent pain during your surgery, but can also make you feel nauseous afterwards.
Some people don’t get sick after surgery, about half of all patients. But if you have following risk factors, you may be more likely to experience postoperative nausea:
- Previous experience of postoperative nausea and vomiting
- Prone to motion sickness
- Longer surgery (30 min and more)
- Pain medication taken after surgery (narcotic)
You will meet with your anesthesiologist before surgery. Be honest and accurate when talking to them about your health, your previous experiences and any allergies you might have. Let your physician know if you are very nervous before surgery. During your surgery, your anesthesiologist will keep you comfortable and watch your vital signs. They will need you to be completely open to them to make your surgery and postoperative care safe.
Tips To Prevent Nausea After Surgery
- Take slow deep breaths. Breathe slowly through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
- Suck on ice chips.
- Hydrate with clear fluids. Drinks with electrolytes will help hydrate you more quickly.
- Avoid carbonated, sweet and caffeinated drinks. Avoid hot drinks.
- Start with small amounts of clear fluids for a few hours. If they don’t bother you, drink a bit of juice. If that goes well, try crackers, pretzels, toast and some soft food (pudding, applesauce, bananas, rice, boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, vanilla ice cream, noodles in a light broth)
- Take ginger ale or ginger candy or any foods/tea that contain real ginger, not just flavoring.
- Slowly return to normal foods. Eat and drink slowly, small amounts 1-2 hours apart and do not lie flat after eating for about 30 minutes.
- Avoid strong smells/scents. (Room fresheners, flowers, heavily perfumed visitors, cut grass)
- If you’re feeling too warm, cool off. Getting overheated makes some people more nauseous.
- Never take medications on empty stomach.
- Report nausea to your physician.
Stick to your pain medications even if you’re worried they’ll make you nauseous. Pain makes vomiting more likely.
Nausea after surgery can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Extreme nausea may cause you to vomit enough fluids to cause dehydration and repeated retching can leave your abdominal muscles feeling sore and weak or even hurt your esophagus. In rare cases, you might see some blood when you vomit. There are good treatments for all of these problems, but you must contact your physician for help if you need it.