Many people undergoing surgery concentrate on getting through the surgery itself. They don't think ahead to what could happen, especially if infection sets in. Some may not know the warning signs of an infection if it occurs. Below is a list of symptoms that are associated with an infection after surgery.
After surgery, some redness will occur. However this redness should decrease over time. When infection has entered the body, then the incision becomes red and gets better instead of worse. The redness also becomes a little darker. It may also begin spreading away from the incision site. When redness is more than half an inch away from the incision site, it is the early stage of infection.
Infection in an incision can also cause the incision to feel hot to the touch. This occurs because germs have entered into the incision. Once this happens, white blood cells race to the incision site to fight these germs. This causes the incision site to feel warm to the touch. Blood tests can determine white blood cell counts to tell if a possible infection has entered into the body.
Swelling can begin to occur at the incision site. If the white blood cells cannot fight the infection, the incision site gets worse. The incision becomes inflamed. Because of this inflammation the incision becomes swollen or looks puffy. It can also harden. This hardening can be caused by infection building up under the incision. If this occurs, the incision will need to be drained by a physician to relieve the swelling and the hardening.
Another sign of infection after surgery is pain. At first pain is to be expected and as the days go by it should lessen. If you over exert yourself after surgery, then pain can worsen but should diminish with rest. If the pain doesn't go away or becomes worse, then this could also be the early signs that the wound is infected. As the infection worsens and the pain becomes more severe, a fever can occur. This is fever with the pain is a definite sign of infection.
A major sign that happens when an incision is infected is drainage. Clear drainage can be expected sometimes after surgery but it lessens and goes away within a couple of days. When infection has set in, the incision can start draining puss. This puss looks like a greenish, yellowish color. Sometimes it can also be white. Also there may be a slight mix of blood when the incision begins to drain. It is also accompanied buy a foul odor. This odor occurs because of infection continuing to build at the incision site, eating away at skin tissue.
There are several things that can be done in order to prevent an infection from occurring after surgery. Before surgery make sure the area being operated on is clear of any hair. Hair around the wound can trap germs and bacteria if left unshaven. Second, antibiotics are normally given after surgery. This is to fight any form of germs that may have gotten into the body during the surgery. After surgery, and the patient is sent home, ask the doctor about proper wound care and when to change the dressing. Finding out if the incision can even get wet can help keep infection down. Some germs and bacteria like breeding in moist places. In most cases an incision shouldn't be soaked in water, but merely cleaned with a damp cloth using tiny pats. Last, keep a check on the incision. If any symptoms like redness, swelling or drainage occur, then call the physician and let them know that a possible infection is occurring.