I’m having surgery next week and I’m worried about feeling sick afterward. Is there anything I can do to avoid nausea from anesthesia after surgery?

Going under anesthesia is frightening for a lot of reasons. You may be worried about feeling out of control of your body or being sick when you wake up. The possible side effects you are given don’t help with that fear either: grogginess, confusion, dry mouth, shivering, sore throat and pain at the surgery site.

But the one side effect that worries you more than the others—dizziness, nausea and vomiting as you come out from being under anesthesia—may be preventable.

How to Stop the Nausea After Surgery

One of the most common fears about being “put under” is the dizziness you feel as you wake up. This can quickly make you feel nauseous. In fact, nausea is the second most common post-surgical complaint.

Here’s what you can do to put a stop to the spins when they strike:

  • Hydrate as soon as you can. You probably had to stay away from food or water before your surgery, but afterwards it’s a different story. Your body will be dehydrated, which can make you feel very sick. Hydrate as soon as you’re allowed to have water to help calm your stomach.
  • Ask for anti-nausea medication. If you’ve been put under anesthesia before and had nausea, tell your doctor. You might be able to get some anti-nausea medication to help as the anesthesia wears off.
  • Stay still. Reading, watching television, or looking around the room can contribute to your nausea. Stay in recovery and remain as still as you can with your eyes closed until the spinning stops.
  • Acupuncture. Although acupuncture is not a proven medical treatment for nausea, many patients say it works. Studies show that acupressure on your wrist can stop nausea and vomiting.

One serious and sometimes deadly risk of vomiting after surgery is the possibility of vomit aspiration, which can lead to choking, asphyxiation and aspiration pneumonia. If you know you get nauseous after being under anesthesia, tell your doctor before your surgery and show her this article. You could not only avoid discomfort but save your own life.