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Archive May 2020 XXI, No. 5

Alternative Ways to Prevent PONV

All-natural therapies and products can lower the risk of the common complication all patients dread.

Mary Corley, RN, BSN, MAC, RAC, DIP



UNDER PRESSURE Manipulating an acupoint near the wrist is an effective way to control post-operative nausea and vomiting.

Post-operative nausea and vomiting is the last thing patients who've just had surgery need to deal with. Whether PONV is caused by anxiety, a bad reaction to anesthesia or both, it's easier to prevent than it is to treat. Common medications used to combat PONV, however, have side effects of their own. Thankfully, there are several simple and effective remedies you can use to stop that queasy feeling before it starts.

  • Mindful relaxation. Patients aren't always nauseous post-operatively because they're having a physical reaction to the anesthesia or are re-awakening to the anxiety they're feeling because of the surgery. Sometimes, their body is out of balance, and restoring that balance can assist with the healing process.

Reiki, a Japanese technique that involves massage-like touch therapy, not only reduces stress and induces relaxation, it also can promote healing. "Rei" means "universal" and "Ki" refers to a vital life-force energy. Reiki isn't hypnosis — the patient isn't relinquishing control to the practitioner. It's not the offspring of a religion; it's not dogmatic; it's not about mind control; and it's not placebo. If the patient is open to it, they're in control. It's a self-regulating, very democratic form of healing.

You don't have to explain all the details to a patient who's still a little groggy in PACU. I simply say, "If you're interested, there's a technique called Reiki that can help alleviate your symptoms. I'm going to try to alleviate your pain, and I'm going to try to help with your nausea."

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