Common Issues and Side Effects after Surgery
Most people have an idea in their heads that after their surgery, they will be up and running around, back to their old selves and that recovery involves nothing but a short period of rest. However, many don't think about a very important factor that contributes to their recovery - diet and nutrition. It doesn’t matter if your loved one has had a joint replaced; a heart bypass or a cancerous tumour removed, the body requires extra nutrients to heal, so focusing on nutrition can mean the difference between bouncing back and a lengthy recovery.
Occasionally, complications can occur after surgery, which makes it harder for the body to heal. Which is why eating the right foods after surgery can decrease the risk of infection, speed healing of the wound area and increase strength and energy.
Common Issues that Occur After Surgery
- Wound Infections
Wound infections can happen after any surgery but is particularly a problem after abdominal surgery which involves opening the bowel. If your loved one is older, is overweight, smokes, already has a weak immune system or other medical conditions such as diabetes, they may have a higher risk of getting an infection from their wound.
- Fatigue and Weight Loss
Surgery can take a toll on our bodies. Weak muscles make it harder for us to get back to our usual routine after surgery. anaemia, blood loss, periods of fasting before and after surgery and the side effects of medicines are the many reasons why your loved one may feel tired easily and lose weight.
- Nausea and Vomiting
Feeling nausea after surgery is uncomfortable and can delay the return to normal activities like eating and drinking. Vomiting is more serious, as it can be very painful after surgery, cause dehydration and put large amounts of stress on any surgical cuts.
Constipation is very common in the days and weeks after surgery. The medicines used in the surgery can send the bowel to sleep initially and this in itself can be enough to trigger constipation. Other factors are not eating and drinking for the surgery (so the bowel is not stimulated) and painkillers are given after surgery. Not moving around much and eating less also contribute to constipation.
- Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
If your loved one has undergone intestinal surgery to remove parts of their stomach or bowels, they may end up with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This is because the nutrients in the food are absorbed in our stomachs and intestines as it is being digested.
- Swallowing Difficulties and Taste Changes
Some people may have had surgery to the jaw, mouth or throat areas and this makes swallowing difficult because tissue has been removed or reconstructed. A dry mouth also makes it more difficult to swallow. Signs of aspiration include coughing during or after swallowing. The mouth and throat can be sore, medicine can make food taste metallic, and even the sense of smell can lessen. All these issues can affect how well they eat after surgery.The bottom line is, recovery and faster wound healing will not occur without proper nutrition. If your loved one is not eating and drinking well for recovery, they are more likely to be re-admitted to the hospital and have longer hospital stays which will then increase the cost of their care. Therefore, it's important to pay attention to what they are eating and drinking to help them regain their strength and energy.
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