Post-surgical fevers and infection
January 18, 2007 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Post-surgery, should I be more worried about the frequency of fevers or how high they go?

I had 2 surgeries 2 days ago and keep spiking mild fevers, which break when I fall asleep. At what level of fever should I be worried about infections? All four (nasty) wisdom teeth came out, and I had a growth cauterized off my foot. The dermatologist says similar foot problems are highly prone to infections, and of course the wisdom teeth were no picnic either.

On top of it all, I suspect I have a cold -- the sinus drainy-type. It's making swallowing a real pain. (Though I'm on amoxicillin and oxycodone for the teeth). These fevers seem to come in waves, but don't last more than an hour or two before breaking. I'm waiting for my boyfriend to bring home a new thermometer, but all measurements so far have been low-grade (101 degrees F or so).

Should I be more worried about the frequencies of the fevers or how high they go? Getting over to the doc will involve enlisting outside help thanks to the oxycodone, so I don't want to panic prematurely.
posted by to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you insane? Take this question to a doctor, not here.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:37 PM on January 18, 2007 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Opinions differ on that, ikkyu2. I feel fine other than the annoyingness of the fever. Well, as fine as you can be with four holes in your jaw, anyway. I'm just wondering if this is normal after-effect stuff with wisdom teeth surgery... the doc knew I was sick when he took 'em out, and he didn't have any other advice to impart other than staying on the amoxicillin.
posted by at 2:46 PM on January 18, 2007

Response by poster: ...and now, he's pro-ibuprofen.

So that's all the doctor had to say.

It's funny, they get you all panicky about infections and then when you might possibly have one, all they want you to do is take ibuprofen?

Has anyone else had this happen post-wisdom teeth? I'm trying to differentiate between wisdom-teeth-symptoms and general-cold-symptoms, but not having had wisdom teeth out previously, it's tough to tell.
posted by at 3:18 PM on January 18, 2007

I've had several surgeries, including fairly awful wisdom teeth, hip replacements, pins for broken bones, etc., and I've never had cycling post-surgical fevers of enough note to measure. I have had spells of chills and hot flashes, after long surgeries, but this was, I was told, a common aftereffect of anesthesia, and it was over within 24 hours.

If you are taking an anti-biotic, and continue to have bouts of actual fever, you could be getting sepsis, or not. IANAD, but ikkyu2 is. Don't mess around if fevers continue; see a doc who can do some blood work, minimum, or head to an ER.
posted by paulsc at 3:37 PM on January 18, 2007

Response by poster: paulsc -- ditto on the chills and the hot "flashes," but the feverish spells at night seem to be the worst, to the point of waking me up. Also, I only had intravenous sedation, not full anesthetic, so I don't think it's an aftereffect, and the feverish spots started over 24 hrs after the surgery.

Unfortunately, our thermometer wasn't giving super-reliable readings, so we just got a new digital one tonight. Would you consider 101 an actual fever? (darling as he is, the bf has accused me of hypochondria more than once -- he's of the "stick a piece of duct tape on it and deal" school). And the oral surgeon didn't seem to find 101 degrees that alarming.

Point taken, though. If it keeps up tonight, it's off to my primary care guy tomorrow. He's closer than the surgeon anyway.

(And with that, I'm kind of worried that the oral surgeon doesn't find it disturbing if there's a possibility of sepsis).
posted by at 3:58 PM on January 18, 2007

Best answer: Well, if you have an infection, then they'll prescribe amoxycillin - which you're already on.

(I hope you were given at least 7 days' worth and preferably ten - this isn't the sort of infection you want to have, pain-wise, and last time some idiot gave me only 5 days' of antibiotics it didn't end well.)

And ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, which'd be the logical thing for treating the symptoms. Dentist's doing the normal, logical thing. If your feverish symptoms persist in the face of this regular treatment, then they're unusual and you should go see a doctor.

IANAD, obviously, but I've been here before a couple of times. I offer the humble suggestion that allowing your body a few days to recover from this might not be out of order. Perhaps it's telling you to slow the fuck down for a little while, while it recovers from having some guy hack holes in it.
posted by genghis at 4:07 PM on January 18, 2007

Again, IANAD, and I don't know what your "normal" oral temp is. Mine is about 97.8, not quite a degree under the "normal" 98.6, so, for me, anything north of 100 degrees is real fever. YMMV, but 101 would seem to register as a fever with most people.
posted by paulsc at 4:08 PM on January 18, 2007

Response by poster: genghis, I am -- I really am! -- I've been in bed since I got home Tuesday night from the surgical Olympics. Internet-ing is a new development, in the last day or so -- was too dizzy and gross-feeling to even read yesterday. And yes, my other dentist gave me lots and lots of amoxicillin, so no worries there.

Ok, I'll give it another day and see what happens.

Good to know what's actually considered a fever these days. I'm from a family where unless you're over 102 or 103, by golly, you suck it up and go to work (my father the carpenter was also the master of at-home surgical extractions...ick...wood under the fingernail, nailgun to the hand, you name it).

Thanks, everyone.
posted by at 4:16 PM on January 18, 2007

I would note that, when I had all my wisdom teeth cut out a few years ago, my oral surgeon told me to avoid ibuprofen like the plague for a week before and after. I can interfere with clotting and thus be not very good for your healing jaw holes. He made me stick with tylenol.

Of course, you should certainly listen to your doctor, but I thought I'd mention it since my surgeon was great and I had a really easy time of it so I give him a lot of credit.
posted by mostlymartha at 5:32 PM on January 18, 2007

Also, fluids fluids fluids. For the fever, for the cold, for the constipation the oxy will want to cause.

But not with a straw (you don't want to suck out your clots).
posted by mostlymartha at 5:34 PM on January 18, 2007

I had my wisdom teeth out on January 5. The oral surgeon said that slightly elevated temperatures were normal, but if I broke 100F, I should get in touch immediately. He didn't say why (thanks to the anesthesia, I doubt I'd've understood if he had).
posted by booksandlibretti at 5:54 PM on January 18, 2007

Response by poster: No, no straws, mostlymartha. Avoiding those like the plague. That's so strange -- mine told me to take ibuprofen a few hours before the surgery and then, of course, now he's told me to do it for the fever. Hmph. Different approaches, I guess. Glad to hear you had an easy time of it!
posted by at 6:35 PM on January 18, 2007

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