Recovery at Home and Taking Care of Yourself | Otolaryngology | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
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Recovery at Home and Taking Care of Yourself

Typical symptoms

  • It is normal to feel tired and have a lack of energy. Avoid vigorous activities and strenuous exercises for the first four to six weeks. Plan to have short periods of activity alternating with rest periods.
  • You may feel off-balance and mildly nauseated for a few weeks after surgery. You may be referred to physical therapy for vestibular rehabilitation, which will help with your balance and sense of dizziness.
  • You may also have headache pain and/or neck stiffness.
  • You may also have mild swelling around the incision that comes and goes over the first several weeks.  
  • Numbness along your incision line is normal, and may persist for weeks to months.

Please contact us right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • New numbness, tingling, or weakness in your face, arms, or legs
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Worsening of balance or walking abilities
  • Headaches that are worse when sitting or standing, and are relieved by lying flat, especially if you feel nauseated or are vomiting
  • Clear, watery drainage from your ear, nose, or down the back of your throat, similar to a leaky faucet
  • Headache not relieved with pain medication, or neck stiffness and/or sensitivity to light
  • Have a fever above 101º F lasting longer than 24 hours
  • Redness, swelling, heat, or drainage from your incision
  • Have trouble re-establishing normal bowel habits despite use of stool softeners and laxatives

Things to avoid after surgery

Avoid heavy lifting or straining for the first four weeks. For the first two weeks, you should not lift anything that you cannot easily lift with one arm. Take stool softeners (Colace) if you feel constipated, to avoid straining at bowel movements.

  • Avoid coughing, sneezing, or holding your breath while straining; this puts pressure on your surgical site.
  • If you have facial weakness, follow Eye Care Instructions to protect your eye.
  • Use caution to avoid falls following surgery, particularly if your balance is not as good as usual. This includes climbing stairs, driving, or walking outside. Avoid climbing ladders or working at heights until cleared by your Acoustic Neuroma care team. Most people do not drive for the first 3 weeks following surgery.
  • Do not submerge your head in water until after your sutures have been removed in 10-14 days. After sutures are removed, you may shower or bathe per your usual routine, but pat the incision dry instead of rubbing it for another 1-2 weeks.
  • Do not apply lotions or oils to your incision after sutures are out. You may apply an antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin or Neosporin.

Medications after surgery

  • You will take Dexamethasone (a steroid) for two weeks after surgery. This is a steroid medication and it may raise your blood sugar level which will return to normal when you taper off the steroid. If you are diabetic, plan to monitor blood sugars at least twice daily if you do not already do so.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat fruits and fiber to prevent constipation. A stool softener such as Colace is recommended while taking a narcotic pain medication. If you become nauseous and/or your stomach is swollen, we recommend drinking a bottle of Magnesium Citrate or Miralax. You can purchase this without a prescription at your local pharmacy. If you don’t have any relief, please contact us.
  • Take your pain medication and dexamethasone with food to avoid nausea. 
  • You should take your pain medication at the onset of pain for it to be effective. You should be able to taper off the pain medication generally over the first 1-2 weeks. Extra Strength Tylenol can be used for longer term pain management. 
  • If you need a refill it is important to call the clinic 3-4 days before you will run out of your medication. Prescriptions for pain medication must be mailed to you or your pharmacy and cannot be called in to the pharmacy.
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