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Apr 07, 2022

Feeling hazy or groggy as you come round from a general anesthetic? The journey to recovery after a minor or major surgery isn’t usually smooth sailing. There are several things you may want to consider as a patient in preparation for, during and post-surgery.

We have put together a list of the most common side-effects encountered by patients after undergoing surgery. It is important to note this advice and ask the nursing staff and even your doctor about what to expect.

The Netcare Hospitals medication guide to surgical procedures cites a few of the common side-effects of surgery.

  • Nausea and vomiting. In most cases, anesthesia causes nausea or vomiting. Your doctor will, however, prescribe medication to assist with nausea and vomiting.
  • Sore throat and thirst. This may be caused by the tube placed in your windpipe for breathing during surgery. Your doctor may also prescribe analgesics, which have a few side effects, one of which is thirst, as well as a dry mouth.
  • Pain, and swelling around the incision site. It is quite normal to experience pain and swelling, especially if you have had invasive surgery. Pain medication anti-inflammatories will be prescribed by your doctor that will assist with pain and inflammation.
  • Restlessness and sleeplessness. Anesthesia, surgical trauma, post-surgery pain, environmental stress and discomfort are a few of the reasons for restlessness and lack of sleep after surgery.
  • Constipation. Dehydration and not drinking enough water are also known to cause constipation and gas after surgery. The other causes may be pain medications, anesthesia, or a lack of movement following the procedure.
  • Other side effects. Headaches, flushing of the skin, movement disorders, agitation and sedation are a few of the other side effects that you may experience after surgery. In these cases, please ensure that you inform your doctor and nursing staff, as recommended by Netcare.

How can you care for yourself at home?

If you are wondering what the best regime is to heal after undergoing surgery, Myhealth Alberta, shares a few of pointers on how best to do that:

  • Take your medication correctly as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Find out if you are allowed to take over-the-counter medicine and how.
  • Call your doctor or nurse if you have any problems with your medicine. Bestmed also pays for video or online consultations.
  • Do not do any heavy lifting or laborious work after surgery.
  • Stay in bed and rest until you feel better.
  • Drink a lot of fluids, especially water, to prevent dehydration.
  • If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and must limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the number of fluids you drink.
  • Eat soups, mild food and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Other good choices include dry toast, crackers, cooked cereal, and gelatin-based dessert (like jelly).



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