Endoscopic Sinus Surgery: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

You will have a drip pad under your nose to collect mucus and blood. Change it only when it bleeds through. You may have to do this every hour for 24 hours after surgery.

You may have some swelling of your nose, upper lip, cheeks, or around your eyes. Your nose may be sore and will bleed. You may feel "stuffed up" like you have a bad head cold. This will last for several days after surgery.

The tip of your nose and your upper lip and gums may be numb. Feeling will return in a few weeks to a few months. Your sense of smell will not be as good after surgery. It will improve and probably return to normal in 1 to 2 months.

You will probably be able to return to work or school in about 1 week and to your normal routine in about 3 weeks. However, this varies with your job and the extent of your surgery. Most people feel normal in 1 to 2 months.

You will have to visit your doctor regularly for 3 to 4 months after your surgery. Your doctor will check to see that your sinuses are healing well.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover. Do not lie flat. Raise your head with three or four pillows. This can reduce swelling. Try to sleep on your back during the month after surgery. You can also sleep in a reclining chair.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation. Also, try to sit and stand as much as you can.
  • For 1 week, try not to bend over or lift anything heavier than 4.5 kilograms. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • You can take a shower or bath. Use lukewarm, not hot water. Avoid swimming for 6 weeks.
  • Avoid sawdust, chemicals, and excessive dust for 4 weeks.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 1 week and then ease back into these activities over 2 to 3 weeks.
  • You may drive when you are no longer taking prescription pain medicine and feel up to it.
  • You will probably be able to return to work or school in about 1 week and to your normal routine in about 3 weeks. However, this varies with your job and the extent of your surgery.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Do not take aspirin, aspirin-containing medicines, or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) for 3 weeks following surgery unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Incision care

  • You probably will not have an incision (cut). You will have a drip pad under your nose to collect blood. Change it only when it has bled through. You may have to do this every hour for 24 hours after surgery. When bleeding stops, you can remove it.
  • If you have packing in your nose, leave it in. Your doctor will take it out.

Ice and elevation

  • To help with swelling and pain, put ice or a cold pack on your nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Do not sleep flat. Sleep with your head raised up. You can also sleep in a reclining chair.

Other instructions

  • Do not blow your nose for 2 weeks.
  • Do not put anything into your nose.
  • If you must sneeze, open your mouth and sneeze naturally.
  • Keep your mouth clean. Rinse your mouth with salt water or an alcohol-free mouthwash after each meal and before bedtime.
  • After any packing is removed, use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open and wash out mucus and bacteria. You can buy saline nose drops at a grocery store or drugstore.
  • You can wear your glasses when you wish. Do not wear contacts until the day after the surgery.
  • Do not travel by airplane for at least 2 weeks. Your sinuses are still healing, and the changes in air pressure can affect them.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You bleed through the bandage.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: July 29, 2016