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How to Cure Postoperative Exhaustion

By Jody Morse ; Updated July 27, 2017

Postoperative exhaustion, a feeling of extreme fatigue, commonly occurs after intense surgery. It can affect you physically and mentally--you may feel too tired to function properly in any area of your life. Postoperative exhaustion can be very serious. Don't take it lightly.

  1. Follow your doctor’s orders. This is the most important thing to do after surgery, major or minor. If your doctor tells you to remain on bed rest for a certain number of days, you should do it. Many people experience postoperative exhaustion because they ignore their doctor's instructions.

  2. Pay attention to your own best judgment. If you don't feel ready to begin functioning normally again, it’s because you probably aren’t ready. Sometimes you must go against the advice of your doctor if you just aren’t feeling well enough; use your judgment and stay in bed. Doing more than you can handle will postpone your recovery from postoperative exhaustion.

  3. Get help from family members or friends. Ask the people around you to help with household chores, get groceries, cook dinner or take over the car pool for your children temporarily. They are likely to be more than happy to help you. And their assistance will prevent you from experiencing additional stress that will only worsen your postoperative exhaustion.

  4. Follow a well-balanced diet. According to the American Cancer Society, a well- balanced diet can help you remain strong and energetic, maintain body weight and nutrients, decrease your risk of infection and speed your healing. Getting enough vitamins through fruits and vegetables and protein through lean meats, and eating whole grains will help prevent or cure postoperative fatigue. You may need to follow a strict diet immediately following surgery, however.

  5. Visit or call the doctor if postoperative exhaustion is severe. It is normal to feel exhausted after major surgery, but you want to ensure that you're healthy otherwise. See a doctor if you simply do not seem to be feeling any better in a reasonable time.

  6. Keep up with a routine. This will help your body get back to functioning normally. Exercising regularly after surgery will be beneficial, but don't do an intense workout until you're ready for it.

  7. Tip

    Drink lots of liquids to prevent dehydration. Water, juices, teas and soup are all great options.

    The seriousness of the surgery can increase the likelihood of postoperative exhaustion.


    Avoid drugs, cigarettes and alcohol after surgery, as these substances may prevent healing.

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