Nausea and vomiting after surgery could be relieved by two non-drug treatments involving aromatherapy and simple sugar.
Postoperative nausea and vomiting is a common complication, occurring in up to one-third of untreated surgical patients.
In the aromatherapy study 301 patients suffering nausea after surgery were randomly selected to be given one of four types of aromatherapy.
Two groups were treated with essential oil of ginger or a blend of ginger, spearmint, peppermint and cardamom oils on a gauze pad.
Two other groups were given gauze pads with non-aromatherapy solutions – either rubbing alcohol or a saline solution.
Patients who were given the aromatherapy treatments had lower nausea scores than the other groups and were less likely to need anti-vomiting drugs.
The second blend of four oils was more effective than the ginger oil on its own and about 80pc of the patients who were given the blend showed an improvement in their nausea compared to about 70pc with the ginger only.
“Aromatherapy is promising as an inexpensive, noninvasive treatment for postoperative nausea that can be administered and controlled by patients as needed,” says Dr Ronald Hunt of Carolinas Medical Centre University, Charlotte NC.
A second study suggests that intravenous sugar solution is also useful in managing nausea and vomiting after and operation.
The sugar solution which was given intravenously.
While nausea levels were not significantly different after surgery, patients receiving the sugar solution needed less anti-vomiting medication.
The sugar group were also ready for discharge from the recovery room a little earlier.
The two studies are published in the September issue of the journal Anaethesia and Analgesia – the official journal of the International Anaesthesia Research Society.