A common problem faced after anesthesia is the presence of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). In the early days of anesthesia, this problem was prevalent and expected from most anesthetics. In our modern era, we have come to expect a better anesthetic experience and expect few of our patients to have to endure this.
Anesthesia providers have spent a great deal of time investigating this problem and have found ways of preventing this. One of the first things we learned is that certain risk factors increase the likelihood you will get this exist such as use of narcotics during surgery, female gender, non-smoker, history of motion sickness and a history of PONV. The longer the case lasts, the greater are the chances of having PONV. The type of surgery makes a difference. The surgeries with the greatest risk are intraabdominal, laparoscopic surgery and ENT surgery.
Over the last few years, several medications and combinations have been used effectively to prevent PONV. In addition, non-drug approaches such as increased administration of fluids and acupuncture have been shown to be effective. Make sure you ask your anesthesia provider if any of these treatments are appropriate for you.