What To Do After Sinus Surgery
By Alexandra Matkevich RN
We have seen you at the clinic and you are booked in for sinus surgery. That pesky, chronic sinus infection is going to hit the road in only a few short days. What about the recovery period after sinus surgery? Though it might seem like a vacation, your body is working very hard to heal. What are the secrets to a good post operative recovery after sinus surgery.
1. Stick to the plan
Flush! Sinus flushing is the number one thing that you can do at home that will help prevent infection, scaring, and increase comfort. Indications that you might not be flushing enough are discomfort, passing clots, and stuffiness. Up to 5 times a day, 250mL for each side is a good amount for the first two weeks. You are going to need many flushes (up to 140!), so stock up before surgery! You can purchase the flush solution in bulk at discount chemists or make your own up at home using this recipe:
¼ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon of non iodised salt
250mL of water
Use all sinus rinses as per the directions. Follow this up with any other medications you have been given to use after sinus surgery.
Feeling tired the days after sinus surgery is normal. There are several reasons why you will feel tired:
- After having an anaesthetic, you may feel very tired. Anaesthetics take a few days to leave your system completely. The more anaesthetic you had during the surgery, the longer it takes to process.
- The pain medication you are given might also make you feel sleepy and is a common side effect of stronger painkillers. A good balance is to not be in pain, but awake enough to be able to do everyday things.
- Getting a good sleep might be hard for the first few days. Take a midday nap.
- Take some time off work. Some people go back to work more quickly than others, depending on the extent of the surgery. 1-2 weeks is recommended.
Find activities that you can do and take it easy at the same time. Watching movies, listening to audio books, knitting, meditating, solving a 3D puzzle, drawing and reading are a few suggestions to get you started. Note: if you wear glasses, you might find it hard to wear them in the days after surgery because your nose will be sore. Wear looser fitting or lighter glasses if need be.
Resting in the first few days and the healing process can make you feel very tired. However, rigorous activity is not recommended after sinus surgery, going for a gentle walk around your garden or neighbourhood is a great way to get energy flowing back into your body. Your energy levels are going to rise, and you are going to feel and heal better!
4. Eat well
Eating a diet rich in water, vitamins, minerals and fibre is not only going to give your body the nutrients, it needs to heal, but it will also help prevent constipation, a common side effect from pain medication. If dark leafy greens, water and fibre rich foods are not enough, try adding a gentle laxative agent such as Coloxyl and Senna, available from pharmacies. We also have a dietician at the clinic that can make recommendations for your dietary needs.
5. Minimise pain
“Pain is whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever the experiencing person say it does” – McCaffery, 1968. A nursing theorist.
The experience of pain after sinus surgery is different for every patient we see. I am often asked how much it will hurt, to which I cannot give a definite answer. There are patients who experience little pain, and others who experience a lot. The key is to keep on top of your pain by stopping it before it starts. Take your pain medication regularly and step down to less strong medication when you feel ready.
Another handy trick is to use ice to reduce pain and inflammation. A large icepack will be heavy and uncomfortable on the face. Instead, try filling a rubber glove (non-latex for those with allergies) with ice chips. The fingers can easily drape across your face and it will not be too big or heavy.
Anxiety is a known contributor to the increasing the experience and sensation of pain. Take the opportunity of this down time to explore meditation, listen to some calming music or explore the sounds of nature in your back yard. Sometimes the hardest part of having surgery is letting go of all the responsibilities that you usually have to do, and taking the time out to heal yourself.
Contact us today if you have any questions after sinus surgery. Call 1300 123 368 Sydney.