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Anyone ever heard of post-op hot flashes?

Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Registered User Posts: 14,810 Senior Member
edited January 2012 in Parent Cafe
I had neck fusion surgery about a month ago. From day one post-op, I have been having hot flashes which are making me absolutely miserable. Within minutes of them subsiding, I get freezing cold, covered with goosebumps, and have to retreat beneath a blanket. As soon as I warm up just a bit, here comes another hot flash. I haven't really slept well the past two weeks. When I was on pain medicine and muscle relaxers, they sedated me enough to get at least a bit of sleep, but now that I am off all the meds, I just toss and turn all night long.

I was not having hot flashes before my surgery. I am certainly of the age where it would not be inconceivable to begin having peri-menopausal symptoms, but I thought it was just such a coincidence that these began immediately post-op. I am a nurse and have never heard of this happening. I googled it and have found some anecdotes of this in both men and women after they have had various major surgeries, but the only hits on it I got were personal stories on various health message forums, nothing in the medical literature.
Have any of you heard of this happening? I was going to ask my surgeon about it at my follow up, but unfortunately, I neglected to write down my questions and forgot.

Anyway, I now just want to find a great portable fan that can help me get through these hot flashes as my husband says coming home to a house with the AC on in December is driving him crazy.

Can any of you recommend a great, small fan which can be used for this purpose? I googled it, and you just get thousands of hits. It reminds me of trying to buy a mattress.
Post edited by Nrdsb4 on

Replies to: Anyone ever heard of post-op hot flashes?

  • OnwardOnward Registered User Posts: 2,806 Senior Member
    Something stirred up your hormones. I had a brief time with hot flashes after my second child was born. Thankfully, it didn't last long. Of course, now I have them and they are hanging around way too long.
  • northeastmomnortheastmom Registered User Posts: 12,379 Senior Member
    Is it possible that your surgery triggered some type of vasovagal response?
  • HugcheckHugcheck Registered User Posts: 1,031 Senior Member
    Could your thyroid gland have been affected? Thyroid hormone regulates the metabolism and affects the body's ability to regulate heat. My husband who is low thyroid (hypothyroid) gets very cold and can't heat up when he's not properly medicated and gets excessively sweaty and hot if he gets too much thyroid hormone via his meds. The thyroid is in the neck.
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Registered User Posts: 32,808 Senior Member
    Hugcheck makes a good point. Get your thyroid hormones checked.
  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Registered User Posts: 14,810 Senior Member
    I had an anterior cervical decompression and fusion, which involves the surgeon going through the front. They have to move the esophagus aside with a retractor for the entire surgery. The thyroid gland is in that vicinity. I wonder if it could have been affected in some way. I still have slight discomfort swallowing due to the manipulation of the esophagus. I guess it's not inconceivable that other adjacent structures could have been affected.

    I also read that sometimes surgery can cause a "sympathetic storm" of some kind. Could be.

    I guess another trip to the doctor is in order. I really don't want to do HRT.
  • HugcheckHugcheck Registered User Posts: 1,031 Senior Member
    If there's swelling from the surgery, I suppose that could affect the hormone. Also, thyroid hormone is pretty easy medicine. So don't worry too much about it! Seriously, I get very cranky about medicine and doc's and so forth, but thyroid help is so wonderful ... if you need it it is truly transformative. Not for no reason do we live much longer, healthier lives these days. Doc's are a mixed blessing IMHO but thyroid hormone when you need it is a gift from on high!
  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Registered User Posts: 14,810 Senior Member
    Hugcheck, even though I am a nurse and have spent a good deal of my career giving meds and explaining their benefit, I've always been stubborn about taking them myself. I really had no choice but to take blood pressure medicine as my HBP showed up in spite of exercising daily, eating a healthy diet, and keeping a trim figure. I hated doing it, though, and it was the first time I was unable to find a non-pharmacological solution to my problems.

    Intellectually, I know what you are saying about thyroid replacement. I know it can do a whole heck of a lot of good for those who need it. I just cringe at the thought of having to add another drug to my daily regimen. Sigh.
  • nysmilenysmile Registered User Posts: 5,850 Senior Member
    My husband had surgery on a cervical disc where the neurosurgeon went through the front of the neck to reach the disc. For him, the surgery and recovery was a breeze--no hot flashes.

    However, when he had 2 partial knee replacements, he went through similar post-op hot flashes and sleep disturbances as you describe. It was due to coming off the pain meds. It was terrible. He had nightmares and night sweats----sheets were drenched.
    If you were on a high dose of pain meds while in the hospital and continued the pain meds for more than a few days after being home, perhaps your symptoms are due to withdrawal from the meds.
  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Registered User Posts: 14,810 Senior Member

    I started having the hot flashes on day one post op. I had not been taking any medication prior to the surgery (other than a low dose blood pressure med), so I don't think any kind of withdrawal was a factor. I will say that perhaps the meds (general anesthesia, low dose vicodin and a muscle relaxer) affected my hormonal balance. Also, perhaps during my surgery steroids were injected either into the surgical space or in my IV and combined with all factors to cause this problem. Your husband's experience makes me wonder if it is something related to general anesthesia. I've had other surgeries without this problem, but I was younger and any number of other factors were different this time.

    It's just kind of weird. I do think my age (just turned 50) perhaps put me on a sort of hormonal precipice, so some factor or factors just pushed me over the edge. I guess I was just caught off guard since I have never encountered this in my nursing career. But I have always worked in acute care, so I wouldn't have been in the know about any post op problems after that short period of hospitalization.
  • nysmilenysmile Registered User Posts: 5,850 Senior Member
    He wasn't on pain meds pre-surgery either. He was given pain meds post-surgery (for the partial knee replacement surgery) in the hospital and for about a week once he was released. We're pretty sure his hot flashes and sleep disturbances were due to coming off pain meds after being on them for about a week. If I remember correctly, the pain med was vicotin.

    Post-up his cervical surgery as well as another spinal surgery (to remove a cyst that had formed between two arthritic discs in his lower spine) didn't require any pain meds. He was immediately pain free after both surgeries.
  • shyanneshyanne Registered User Posts: 875 Member
    Oh yeah, vicodin can give you hot flashes. I had to take that after surgery.
  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Registered User Posts: 14,810 Senior Member
    I've been off Vicodin for 3 weeks, (actually Norco) and off muscle relaxers for several days. Hot flashes still going strong and no sleep at all last night.

    My husband says if I don't call the doctor tomorrow and get an appt., he is going to have to start sleeping in his ski parka, lol.

    The question is which doctor to call? GYN? Internal med? Neurosurgeon?

    I guess I'll start with the Internal med doc.
  • Maddie09Maddie09 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I am a 50 year old Female and I am having hot flashes and night sweats for the first time in my life. It started 1 month ago while in the hospital after having acdf surgery on my neck and I started wondering if if had anything to do with surgery. I am glad I found your post so now I don't think I am crazy. i am going to see my Gyno to have my hormones tested next week. I had them tested about a month before my surgery and all was normal no sign of menopause. it really has something to do with this type of surgery. Hope you feel better

    Hot flash in oregon:)
  • MomLiveMomLive Registered User Posts: 2,370 Senior Member
    I have been doing a lot of research on hot flashes recently. They are beginning to think they are a result of an instability in the vascular system triggered by fluctuations in hormones. The whole thing is poorly understood but I could see where things like pain meds, anesthesia and the like could trigger them.

    I recently had major surgery and I encountered more unexpected side effects than I had the past. I think the older you get, the harder it is on your body. :(
  • moonchildmoonchild Registered User Posts: 3,296 Senior Member
    Hey there, Nrdsb4-- how are you feeling these days? How is your overall recovery from your spinal surgery?
This discussion has been closed.