Patients sleeping propped up by pillows

Sleeping on your back is the most common position of post-op patients.

Sleeping on your side is another option, and it has the potential to be more comfortable for some patients.

When you’re in the hospital, the nurses will likely instruct you to sleep in this position for the first few days after surgery.

If you have a sore throat or a fever, try sleeping propped up by pillows. This will help keep you from having to lie flat for as long as possible.

If you’re used to sleeping on your side or stomach, try changing to the other side. This will help you avoid feeling like you’re being “pulled” toward your belly.

You may also find it helpful to sleep with a pillow or two under your head to avoid lying flat.

If you’re prone to snoring, try sleeping with the neck supported by a pillow.

Your doctor may also recommend sleeping with your head elevated. A plastic wedge may help keep your airways open.

To further support your airway, your doctor may recommend a nasal tube. This can be inserted through your nose and used to keep your breathing passages open.

Sleeping on your side and elevated for the first few days after surgery is recommended for most patients.

If you’ve had a bad reaction to anesthesia, your doctor may suggest sleeping without the head elevation for a week after surgery.

Here are a few other tips to help you get the most out of your hospital room:

  • Make sure you have plenty of pillows and blankets to keep you comfortable.
  • You may want to bring your own comfortable blanket or sweater.
  • If you use a laptop or tablet, you may want to bring a portable charger with you to use while you’re in the hospital.
  • Bring comfortable pajamas and slippers to help ease your transition back home.

Aftercare

After the first few days, you can start to resume your normal activities.

Your doctor may recommend a liquid diet for a few days to help replenish your body’s nutritional needs.

You may find it helpful to carry a portable cooler with you to help keep your food cold.

Aftercare will likely involve taking it easy for a few days. This will give your body time to heal and avoid infection.

Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotic medication to take after surgery.

If you’ve had a bad reaction to anesthesia, your doctor may recommend you avoid taking medicines for a few days.

You may also want to avoid certain foods for a week after the procedure.

It’s also important to be careful when returning home.

You should avoid:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking certain medications, such as aspirin

Your doctor will likely recommend you follow these steps for a few more days after surgery.

If you experience any problems, don’t hesitate to call your doctor or seek emergency medical care.

Your doctor will be able to provide you with further aftercare instructions.

Long-term outlook

There’s a good chance you’ll be able to return to work within one to two weeks following surgery.

Your doctor may also advise you avoid lifting heavy weights for three to six months after surgery. This is because you may be at higher risk of long-term complications.

Complications

Complications are uncommon after CABG surgery.

In some cases, you may have to stay in the hospital for several days to make sure you’re healing properly.

A small portion of patients experience bleeding, and an estimated 1 to 2 percent may have a blood clot.

In rare cases, you may have an infection, which requires additional treatment.

You may also experience heart problems, such as heart attack or stroke. These may require additional treatment.

While rare, complications from surgery can include:

  • Blood clots
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Difficulty breathing

In the late stages of heart failure, you may need a heart transplant.

You may also have a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation. This is a heart arrhythmia that causes abnormal heartbeats.

Atrial fibrillation is associated with many complications, including heart failure and stroke. It can also increase your risk of blood clots, heart attack, and sudden cardiac arrest.

If you have a history of heart attack, stroke, or other heart issues, you may be at a higher risk for complications.

Preventing complications

You should talk to your doctor if you currently smoke, and if you have any heart issues, such as a history of heart attack or stroke.

It’s also important to avoid aspirin and other medications that contain aspirin for at least a week after surgery.

You should talk to your doctor about all medications you’re taking.

Take the following steps to help prevent complications:

  • Ask your doctor for a pamphlet that lists all the medications you’re taking.
  • Take your medications as prescribed.
  • Take your medications at the same time each day.
  • Ask your doctor if you need to adjust how you take your medication.
  • Follow all instructions about how to take your medications.
  • Always carry a list of all your medications.

Your doctor can help you make sure you take all of your medications as directed.

Outpatient versus inpatient surgery

You may be able to go home the same day as your surgery.

In some cases, you may need to stay in the hospital for several days before you go home.

If you have an inpatient surgery, you may need to take a few days off work.

Outpatient surgery is more convenient than inpatient surgery. You have more time to recover and can start returning to your normal activities sooner.

Outpatient surgery is your best option if you:

  • Have a procedure in the hospital

Takeaway

Sleep after a tonsillectomy is important for a number of reasons.

You’ll need to be extra careful about your recovery to maximize your chance of fully healing.

You should also be careful not to overdo it while you’re recovering.

If you develop any sleep issues, talk with your doctor about a treatment plan to help you get the best sleep possible

Images by Freepik

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