Swollen uvula after general anasthesia.
March 9, 2007 10:14 AM   Subscribe

I had surgery two days ago, under general anesthesia. When I got out yesterday, it kind of felt weird in my mouth. After some research, I found that my uvula was pretty swollen and it felt like I'm going to swallow it. The surgery had nothing to do with my mouth, but I did have a breathe tube, so my whole mouth felt kind of sore after the surgery.

After some research on the internet, they suggested that swollen uvula can be caused by heavy drinking. I drank heavily on sunday so I'm not sure if it's related.
Also another document claimed that marijuana use before anestesia could cause this http://www.cja-jca.org/cgi/reprint/43/7/691.pdf
I did smoke some marijuana on the morning of that day, but that was about 7-8 hours before the operation. I am, however, a regular marijuana smoker.

My uvula started swelling the day after the surgery. It might have been caused by me trying to smoke marijuana, but I wasn't able to finish it because it felt painful and irritant. However I can't pinpoint exactly when it started swelling.

Did anyone ever experience this? I don't want to go back to the hospital and wait 8 hours before being seen (canada healthcare), but I will go back if it doesn't improve by this weekend.

posted by PowerCat to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
I had surgery in January and although my uvula didn't swell I did lose my voice, but not until 2 days after surgery. I also coughed up bits of blood that day. I decided that the issue was my throat was irritated from the intubation, and then talking, etc. made it get worse. I stopped talking and two days later I was ok. So it could be that the smoking irritated the already-irritated area. If you rest your throat, drink fluids, etc. and it doesn't get better in a day or two I would think you would want to see a doctor. (I am not one)

On the other hand if your uvula is still swelling you should see someone ASAP in case it starts to choke you.
posted by cabingirl at 10:22 AM on March 9, 2007

Taking any kind of drug the day of an operation, prescription or otherwise, without your doctor's awareness, is reckless. It introduces variables that may cause problems, and since you are anaesthetized, you're not exactly able to clear things up for your doctor as to why things may not be going quite the way I ought. You smoked marijuana both the day of and the day after your surgery, without any medical input on the matter.

I'm not judgmental about marijuana use at all, but this isn't responsible drug use. First and foremost, stop smoking and let your body recover between now and when you decide whether to go in this weekend.
posted by hermitosis at 10:26 AM on March 9, 2007

i had knee surgery under general anaesthetic a few years ago and woke up with a very, very sore throat (probably swollen, although i didn't check) and a raspy marge-simpson voice. i assumed this was from the intubation. mine got better in a couple days.

although i'm not a doctor, i'd think it sounds resonable to wait a couple days *as long as it's consistently getting better*, and as long as you can still breathe and swallow ok. if either ability becomes compromised, i'd say it warrants more immediate action.

and hey, not to derail the post or anything, but don't knock canadian healthcare- it may take a few hours, but at least it's free and (generally) democratically available.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:28 AM on March 9, 2007

intubation can fuck your throat up, it happens, no biggie. and leave the bong alone next time you have general anesthesia surgery, willya?

(I swear I had read "I found that my uvula was pretty swollen and it felt like I'm going to swallow it" and I was like WTF???)
posted by matteo at 10:35 AM on March 9, 2007

only I had read "vulva" instead of "uvula"
posted by matteo at 10:35 AM on March 9, 2007

That exact thing happens to my uvula during the early stages of about 1 out of every 5 colds I come down with.
posted by J-Train at 10:47 AM on March 9, 2007

Best answer: I am an anesthesiologist, and this sort of thing is not at all uncommon. The first thing I would suggest is to call the hospital/day surgery center/wherever you had your procedure and let them know. The anesthesiologist may want to talk to you or see you if for no other reason than to reassure you and make sure there isn't an injury there. I don't know how it works there, but in my hospital it would not be a sit in the clinic and wait type of visit, more along the lines of swing by the OR and let me look at your throat. Serious trauma from intubation is pretty rare, but it does occur. It is certainly possible that drinking (with the resulting open-mouthed breathing and drying out of the mucous membranes) and smoking (with the irritating effect of the smoke) contributed to the problem, but the anesthesia is likely the culprit. This is especially true if the anesthetist had a hard time placing the breathing tube. Usually this sort of thing is self-limited and goes away on its own, but that is not the sort of diagnosis that can be made over the internet. Of course, if there is any question of it affecting your ability to breathe, get to the nearest ER as soon as possible.
posted by TedW at 10:58 AM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You may have found this while googling, but here is a little more on the subject from an ENT surgeon.
posted by TedW at 12:22 PM on March 9, 2007

Response by poster: TedW, this is the exact same thing that is happening to me. Thanks for the useful link.
posted by PowerCat at 3:55 PM on March 9, 2007

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