Fall is the time of year when we get a lot of questions about the common cold. Murphy’s law dictates that about week before surgery, patients wake up with a sore throat and a runny nose and a sinking feeling that we will cancel their upcoming surgery. Here are the guidelines my anesthesia and nursing staff and I use:
A significant cough will probably require rescheduling of most surgical procedures, especially those done with a general anesthetic. General anesthesia can irritate the airway and make a cough worse. Also, some procedures, tummy tuck for instance, does not go well with a cough. If the cough is minor and is likely secondary to post nasal drip, it may be okay to go ahead with surgery. Most of the narcotic pain meds we prescribe after surgery are also powerful cough suppressants.
A mild sore throat with no other symptoms is probably not a reason to cancel surgery. The anesthetic may make your sore throat a little worse for a day or two. A raging sore throat with swollen, nasty tonsils is a reason to cancel surgery.
A runny nose without other symptoms is not likely to interfere with anesthesia or recovery but a nasty sinus infection, either viral or bacterial, should be resolved prior to surgery.
A fever will require rescheduling your surgery. Fever is indicative of something bad enough to get your body fighting back. You don’t want to pile on with surgery.
We always appreciate a “heads up” if a patient thinks there is something brewing that may affect their surgery. Don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Thanks for reading! Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder