Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care: School of Medicine: University of California, Irvine

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Health Facts

Ear Nose Throat (ENT)

Nose and Sinus Surgery

What to Expect for a Nose and Sinus Surgery

Types of anesthesia

  • Local: where you will be aware of your surroundings during the procedure
  • General: where you will not know what is occurring when the surgery starts

Occasionally, you may experience a sore throat after surgery, but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

You will usually be discharged to go home the same day of the surgery.

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • In most cases, there is no need for nasal packing or absorbable packing will be used but small number of patients may need packing
  • Stuffy nose, sinus congestion, mild sinus headache
  • Pain and low grade fever can run up to a week
  • Drainage with blood-tinged and may have small amount of blood oozing out from nose (first three days) for the first two weeks after surgery. The color of drainage can turn yellow or green after 1 week.
  • Take 1-2 weeks off from work, depending on the physical nature of your work
  • May experience an upset stomach, nausea and vomiting. Please let your doctors (anesthesiologist or surgeon) know in advance, if you have history of nausea and vomiting during car ride or after surgery.
  • It may take several months for your sinuses to fully recover after a sinus surgery
  • Drainage: The best way to manage drainage is to flush or loosen it with moisturizing saline using nose sprays or irrigation as directed by your doctor. Gently blow your nose but not pinch on nostril and blow forcefully.
  • Bleeding from Nose: Elevate your head and put pressure on the nostril. If it does not resolve the issue please call your doctor.
  • Pain: take pain medication as prescribed and directed by your doctor and use nasal spray or irrigation to clear the nose
  • Packing: If you have a nasal packing, please follow your doctor’s instructions about when to remove it
  • Fever: If the fever does not disappear within a week or elevate above 101.5°F, please call your doctor

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

  • No bending over, heavy lifting, picking, or alcohol beverages for the first two weeks
  • Sneeze with your mouth open
  • Do not blow your nose forcefully
  • Do not strain your bowel movement, use a stool softener if needed
  • Stay upright as much as practical to decrease bleeding
  • No contact sport or swimming

When to contact a doctor

  • Pain that does not get better with pain medication
  • Fever > 101.5°F
  • Dizziness or upset stomach/vomiting that isn’t going away
  • Excessive amount of bleeding
  • Double vision
  • Swelling of the eye

Ear Drum Surgery

What to Expect for an Ear Drum Surgery (Tympanoplasty)

Types of anesthesia

  • General: where you will not know what is occurring when the surgery starts

Occasionally, you may experience a sore throat after surgery, but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

You will usually be discharged go home the same day of the surgery.

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • A small amount of bloody drainage in the ear canal is normal for 2-3 days
  • The ear may stick out. This goes away with time and healing.
  • Hearing is muffled after surgery. This gets better as the ear packing dissolves. The “popping” sounds you hear are the packing behind the eardrum going away. This is normal.
  • The ear feels numb and tingles a little as small nerves grow back
  • For two days after the surgery, an upset stomach and occasional vomiting can happen. Please let your doctors (anesthesiologists and surgeon) know if you experience vomiting during car rides or have a history of nausea.
  • Pain is common and should get better with your pain medication
  • Change the cotton ball in the ear canal when it gets soaked
  • Keep water out of the ear canal. Before showering, put Vaseline on a cotton ball and place in ear canal. Remove cotton ball after bath.
  • It is okay to get the back of the ear wet the day after surgery
  • If there are paper strips behind the ear, leave them in place and pat dry
  • Do not pull anything out of the ear canal. If packing starts to come out, place a cotton ball over it.

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

  • Do not blow nose hard. (This can cause a movement in the eardrum before it’s healed)
  • Sneeze with your mouth open
  • No sports or swimming. Your doctor will give you clearance on when to resume these activities.

When to contact a doctor

  • Pain that does not get better with pain medication
  • Fever > 101°F
  • Dizziness or upset stomach/vomiting that isn’t going away
  • Drainage from the ear canal that is smelly or yellow/green
  • Increased swelling or drainage from the incision

Ear Surgery

What to Expect for Ear Surgery (Tympanoplasty, Mastoidectomy, Endolymphatic Shunt)

Types of anesthesia

  • General: where you will not know what is occurring when the surgery starts

Occasionally, you may experience a sore throat after surgery, but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

You will usually be discharged to go home the same day of the surgery. Post surgical instructions will be given to you from your doctor

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • A small amount of bloody drainage from behind the ear is normal for 2-3 days. Drainage from inside the ear canal can last up to 3 weeks. If the drainage suddenly becomes more, please notify your doctor.
  • The ear may stick out. This goes away with time and healing.
  • Hearing is muffled after surgery. This gets better as the ear packing dissolves. The packing takes about 8 weeks to dissolve. The “popping” sounds you hear are the packing behind the eardrum going away. This is normal.
  • You may experience some vertigo, nausea, and vomiting. Try to take liquid diet or light brand meal. Advance your diet as you can tolerate.
  • The ear feels numb and tingles a little, as small nerves grow back.
  • For two days after the surgery, an upset stomach and occasional vomiting can occur. Please let your doctors (anesthesiologists and surgeon) know if you have experienced vomiting during a car ride or after your surgery and if you have any history of nausea. Also, patients with migraines have more problems with nausea and vomiting. Please let your anesthesiologist know if you suffer from migraines.
  • Pain is common and should get better with pain medicine. Most patients will not have significant pain (requiring strong pain medicines) after the first 4-5 days.
  • Change cotton ball in the ear canal when it is soaked.
  • Keep water out of ear canal. Before showering, put Vaseline on a cotton ball and place in ear canal. Remove cotton after bath.
  • It is okay to get the back of the ear wet 3 days after surgery.
  • Do not pull anything out of the ear canal. If packing starts to come out, place a cotton ball over it or use a Q-tip to gently push it back it in.
  • Protect your ear from getting wet during shower or washing hair.

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

  • Do not blow nose hard. (This can cause a movement in the eardrum before it’s healed)
  • Sneeze with your mouth open
  • No sports or swimming. Your doctor will give you clearance on when to resume these activities

When to contact a doctor

  • Pain that does not get better with pain medication
  • Fever > 101°F
  • Dizziness or upset stomach/vomiting that isn’t going away
  • Drainage from the ear canal that is smelly or yellow/green
  • Increased swelling or drainage from the incision

Tonsillectomy Surgery

What to Expect for a Tonsillectomy?

Types of anesthesia

  • General: where you will not know what is occurring when the surgery starts

Occasionally, you may experience a sore throat after surgery, but it should improve over the next 24 hours after surgery.

Day of discharge

You will usually be discharged to go home the same day of the surgery.

What to expect after surgery and post-surgical care

  • Pain is a common phenomenon after a tonsillectomy, please make sure to take pain medication as directed by the doctor.
  • You may experience an upset stomach, nausea and vomiting. Please let your doctors (anesthesiologist or surgeon) know in advance, if you have history of nausea and vomiting during car ride or after surgery.
  • Eat bland food (applesauce or broth and drink plenty of fluids) for the first 24 hours. After 24 hours, ice cream and pudding can be added to the diet. Avoid spicy, hard, crunchy foods.
  • Snoring is common during the first week after surgery
  • Mouth odor is common after removal of tonsils and adenoids. Just drink as much fluids as you can or use plain chewing gum after the second day.

Activities (Please follow the detailed instructions given by your doctor)

  • Rest and continue with light activities until full diet is tolerable
  • During the first week before post surgical visit, activity should be limited to the indoors. No strenuous exercises should be attempted.
  • No sports or swimming. Your doctor will give you clearance on when to resume these activities

When to contact a doctor

  • Bleeding or vomiting blood (call your doctor and go to the emergency room)
  • Fever > 101°F
  • Dehydration (emergency room visit)
  • Difficulty in breathing (emergency room visit)
  • Pain that isn’t better with pain medicine
  • Dizziness or upset stomach/vomiting that isn’t going away