Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.
Have someone call 911 for any of the following:
- You have a seizure or lose consciousness.
- You cannot be woken.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have pus or foul-smelling drainage coming from your ear.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- You have a headache, fever, and a stiff neck.
- You have sharp ear pain that spreads to your face or jaw.
- Your mouth droops on the side where you had surgery, and is numb.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have new or increased dizziness.
- You feel fullness or pressure in your ear.
- Your ear is red and swollen.
- You have nausea and vomiting even after taking medicine
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
- Antinausea medicine may be given to prevent or treat nausea and vomiting.
- Antihistamines help prevent allergy symptoms. Antihistamines may also help prevent nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
- Ear drops may be given to decrease swelling.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Have someone stay with you for the first 48 hours:
You cannot drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Arrange for someone to stay with you and drive you to appointments or errands. They can also call 911 if you have serious complications of surgery. You may not be able to cook or clean without help after surgery. You may also need help to care for children or pets.
Care for your wound as directed:
Do not remove your bandage or packing until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Your healthcare provider may need to remove your stitches or packing. Wash your hands before and after you touch your ear to prevent infection. Remove and replace cotton balls when they get wet or dirty. Cotton balls will catch any drainage from your ear. It is normal to have a small amount of bloody drainage. Check your wound for signs of infection such as swelling or pus. Do not stick anything into your ear other than what your healthcare provider tells you to.
Ask your healthcare provider when you can take a shower. Do not take baths or go in hot tubs or pools. Your ear needs to stay dry to prevent infection. Do not allow water to get into your ear for 6 to 8 weeks. Use ear plugs when you wash your hair or take a shower. Ask your healthcare provider where you can buy ear plugs and what type to get.
How to use ear drops:
Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you use ear drops. This helps prevent infection. You may need someone to help you place ear drops. Do the following:
- Remove any cotton balls in your ear. Lie down on your side with your ear facing up. For children, gently pull the bottom of the ear down and back. This helps to open the ear canal. For adults, gently pull the top of your ear up and back towards the back of your head.
- With your other hand, carefully drip the prescribed number of ear drops in your ear. Gently press on the front part of your ear (ear flap) to help the ear drops stay in your ear. Gently move the outside part of your ear back and forth to help the medicine reach your ear canal. Stay lying down in the same position (with your ear facing up) for 3 to 5 minutes.
It is normal to have dizziness after surgery. Your inner ear sends signals to your brain about movement and balance. The fluid in your ear from swelling will prevent your brain from getting the signals. You may feel dizzy and lose your balance. Your healthcare provider will give you medicine to prevent or treat dizziness. You can help prevent dizziness by doing the following:
- Move slowly. Sit up and stand slowly. Turn your head slowly. Ask someone to walk with you to prevent a fall.
- Do not bend forward at the waist. This may cause the fluid to move in your ears and throw off your balance.
- Limit activity for the first 24 hours to prevent dizziness and nausea. Slowly start to do more each day. Do not lift anything heavy for 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Return to your daily activities as directed.
Wash your hands before and after you touch your ear. Stay away from crowded places to decrease your risk for an upper respiratory infection. An upper respiratory infection may make it harder for you to heal from surgery. Do not smoke or stand near someone who is smoking. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can get into your ears and cause infection. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Do not blow your nose, sneeze, or cough:
These actions can raise the pressure in your ears and put stress on your incision or graft. If you have an eardrum graft, try not to blow your nose for 2 to 3 weeks. If you need to blow your nose, sneeze, or cough, do so with your mouth open.
Nutrition after surgery:
- Use a straw to drink liquids. It is normal for part of your face to feel numb after surgery. It may be difficult to drink liquids. A straw may help you drink more easily. Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Healthy foods will help your body heal after surgery. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
Manage hearing loss:
After surgery, you may hear popping and cracking sounds for 3 to 5 weeks. This is normal, and the sounds usually go away with time. You may also have short-term or permanent hearing loss after surgery. To hear people more easily, turn off noisy devices in your home, such as the radio or TV. Ask people to face you when they speak. Ask your healthcare provider about hearing aids to help improve your hearing.
Sleep with your head elevated to decrease swelling and help your ear drain. Use two pillows to prop up your head. Ask your healthcare provider if you should sleep with your wounded ear facing up or down.
Do not travel in a plane for at least 3 weeks after your surgery. The pressure in your ear may rise and put stress on your incision. It may also delay healing or cause your graft to move out of place. Ask your healthcare provider when it will be safe for you to travel by plane.
Returning to work:
Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay to return to work. If you lift heavy objects at your job, you may have to wait several weeks before you can return to work.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to have your hearing checked once you have healed from surgery. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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