Breathing Tube: Intubated with an Endotracheal Tube

| January 19, 2013 | 134 Comments

The breathing tube….Will I be intubated with an endotracheal tube during surgery?

If you are undergoing general anesthesia for a procedure, your anesthesiologist may decide to place a breathing tube once you are asleep.  This is called an endotracheal tube and is a plastic tube that is placed into your mouth and down into the entrance to your lungs.  One of the reasons this is placed is to help protect your lungs from gastric aspiration.

Also, general anesthesia medicines can make you so sleepy that the anesthesiologist needs to do something to help breathe for you while you are sleeping.  This is another reason why the breathing tube is placed into your windpipe; it helps oxygen get into your lungs during general anesthesia.  Once the breathing tube is placed, a ventilator machine will help you breathe and anesthesia gas may go through this tube into your lungs to provide anesthesia.

You will be asleep or sedated the entire time this tube is in place.  When your lungs are strong enough and the anesthesia is wearing off, the breathing tube will be removed.  Rarely, your throat may be a little sore after general anesthesia if a breathing tube was placed during the surgery.  If the sore throat does occur, it will usually resolve in a day or two.   Even more rare than a sore throat is damage to teeth during placement of the tube because the tube is placed through your mouth.

Your anesthesiologist will discuss with you whether or not the plan is for general anesthesia with a breathing tube in place for your procedure.  Do not fear this as this is a procedure that is performed almost on a daily basis by anesthesiologists.  Unless explicitly discussed with your anesthesiologist prior to surgery, the breathing tube will be placed while you are completely asleep and unaware of anything.

Did you have a breathing tube during your surgery?  Let us know what your experience was all about by leaving a comment below or visiting the forum.  Don’t forget to learn about other anesthesia myths during your visit as well.

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Update:

We have had some readers share experiences about “clamping down” on the breathing during the process of emerging from anesthesia (“waking up”).

This tendency to bite on the breathing tube can occur in some patients during this period as they are confused and disoriented. And they typically will not remember these first events as they are coming out of anesthesia.

Many anesthesiologists do place an oral airway during this time to protect the breathing tube and provide a better conduit for air/oxygen flow as the breathing tube is removed. You can see what an oral airway looks like below:

 

oral airway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occasionally, it may not be best to place one of these airways. In those cases, a “soft” oral airway may be created and placed by the anesthesiologist or other techniques may be used.

This airway usually stays in until the patient is aware of it and no longer needs it to assist in keeping the airway open post operatively.

I hope this update proves useful. Share your questions and experiences below or in our forum.

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Category: General Anesthesia

Comments (134)

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  1. Katie says:

    I went under general for my very first surgery today. I was a bit surprised by the anesthesiologist telling me a breathing tube would be used. My mom has had surgeries, and never came across this. I knew it would all take place while I was under, and got the impression that this was very normal for the anesthesiologist to do. I was told that I may have a sore throat when I woke up, but this was not the case for me. The only reminder of the tube was a little bit of glue from the tape on my face!

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi Katie,

      Thanks for your comment. Depending on what kind of surgeries your mom had, she may or may not have had a breathing tube. It may be that her anesthesiologist simply didn’t go into great detail explaining that aspect of her anesthetic.

      Breathing tubes and LMA’s are pretty standard for most types of procedures that require a general anesthetic.

      Glad to hear you didn’t have a sore throat!

      Dr. David

    • Jeanette says:

      I just had a cholecystectomy done on 1/14 wherein a breathing tube was used. I found out when I was in recovery that I turned blue because I had clamped down on the tube and they had to give me oxygen right away. Why isn’t a mouthpiece used so this can’t happen? As a matter of fact, I wasn’t told by anyone about this happening until I overhead one of the nurses telling the floor nurse what happened. I have a post-op appointment coming up and will discuss this with my surgeon.

      • Dr Dave says:

        Jeanette,

        First of all, I’m glad to see that you pulled through whatever event that occurred.

        Definitely discuss it with your surgeon, and if he/she can’t provide enough details, ask to speak with the anesthesiologist that took care of you.

        From what you are describing, it sounds like you bit down on the breathing tube as you were waking up from anesthesia. This can happen as patients “wake up” and are disoriented as to the situation and their surroundings. Occasionally, this clamping down can be enough to affect oxygen flow within the breathing tube.

        I typically do use an oral airway to protect the breathing tube on extubation and to provide a conduit for air/oxygen flow once the tube is removed. Occasionally, this may not be the best course of action.

        It will be helpful to get an idea of what occurred so that you can pass on that information to your anesthesiologist should you need surgery in the future.

        If you’d like, you can help us all learn a little more from your experience by posting what you learn on our forum.

        Thanks for stopping by and sharing your personal experience with our community!

        Dr. Dave

  2. Arlene says:

    Hi,

    I too had to have a breathing tube inserted during surgery for an orbital floor fracture. Upon waking up from the anesthesia, I felt more dry mouth than sore throat. The anesthesiologist advised I may feel sore throat but i must say if I did have it, it was so minimal I did not feel it. I think there was much more going on that even if i did have sore throat, it didn’t even matter. I will admit however, I was scared and had a little anxiety when I was first told about this tube. The scare and thought is more of a pain then the actual aftermath of having it. Please do not fret over this tube insertion as you will not even remember it much less feel it.

  3. Nicole says:

    I had my first surgery today and was given general anesthesea. I also had a breathing tube inserted and woke up with a very sore throat. My nurse told me it was normal to feel like this and said it would go away in a day or two.

    • DrJoe says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. And I am sorry to hear that your throat is sore.

      You are right that sometimes your throat might be sore after general anesthesia with a breathing tube. Your nurse was right when he or she told you the sore throat would go away in a couple of days.

      I recommend using Cepacol lozenges for a little relief as your throat heals. If your throat does not get any better after a couple of days, let your doctor know.

      Please check back in after a few days and let us know how you are feeling.

      • Raquel says:

        Hi my name is Raquel
        I just had surgery about 5 days ago. I needed to have my lap band removed as I had some trouble trying to swallow my saliva and even water. Everything kept coming back out and throwing up, and my band slipped. When I got tothe hospital they deflated my band and had to have it removed. The anesthesiologist had told me that I was going to be incubated and I would have like a soar throat for a 1 day or 2 and I feel like my throat hearts more than my inscision sight. Is there any remedy or cure to this pain I feel in my throat. It hurts to swallow saliva let alone even liquids. HELP!!!

        • Hi Raquel,

          So sorry to hear about your sore throat. Did the anesthesiologist mention anything about a difficult intubation? Sometimes a sore throat after surgery may be a sign of a difficult intubation.

          In any case, what I would recommend is Cepacol lozenges. They can help numb the back of your throat for awhile, which can provide you with some relief as time passes. If the sore throat persists beyond a week, I would visit with your doctor for an exam.

          Also, check out our post on anesthesia for lap band surgery. This may provide some info for you as well.

          Best of luck. Let us know how things turn out for you.

          • Chantel says:

            Hi I just had a DMc done and my jaw hurts and chest hurts very bad I’m not sure what could’ve happend but I gt the tube aswell

            • David Draghinas says:

              Hello Chantel,

              I hope you feel better soon. If things don’t get better, you may want to check in with your physician and let them know what you are experiencing.

  4. Jodi M says:

    I had surgery yesterday under general anesthesia. I had a breathing tube inserted as well. When i woke my throat was very sore and I had a hard time talking and swallowing. I also had a very dry mouth and a horrible taste in mouth. Today I still lose my voice when I talk, and my jaw is extemely sore. Hurts to even chew and of course swallow.

  5. Dr Dave says:

    Jodi,

    I’m sorry to hear of your “very sore” throat.

    I am wondering what kind of surgery you had. Surgery that involves the throat and/or the jaw can worsen these types of symptoms.

    And if you were a “difficult intubation”, there’s a higher chance that your throat will be more sore than usual.

    It may not be a bad idea to ask your anesthesiologist if there were any issues in placing or removing the breathing tube.

    I hope you feel better soon!

    Dr. Dave

  6. Jodi M says:

    Thanks!
    I had laparoscopic tubal ligation. Also ended up having a polyp removed on my cervix that they found.
    The anesthesiologist didn’t mention anything after the procedure. His only concern before and after was wanting me to follow up asap with my family doctor about his concerns that I may have sleep apnea.
    I was sick last week and was tested Thursday for strep throat and put on antibiotics. So i was only 5 days into my treatment when i had my surgery. Maybe that’s why?

  7. Dr Dave says:

    Thanks for getting back to us with more information, Jody.

    My guess is the strep throat combined with the intubation is what made your sore throat so severe.

    I hope you feel better soon!

    Dr. Dave

  8. kacy says:

    My daughter had surgery yesterday to remove a beeast duct due to a growth. The anesthesiologist did not tell her she would have a breathing tube, the tube had to be inserted during the surgury. Please explain

    • DrJoe says:

      Thanks for your comment. Endotracheal tubes or breathing tubes and laryngeal mask airways (LMA’s) are commonly placed by anesthesiologists during general anesthesia. These devices help provide oxygen to a patient, eliminate carbon dioxide, provide anesthesia gases, and protect against gastric aspiration.

      The placement of a breathing device in a case such as your daughter’s procedure is very common. I am sorry that this came as a surprise to you and your daughter and I hope there were no complications. Let me know if this explanation helps.

  9. Kacy says:

    Thank you Dr. Just thought that a surgeon would explain the “What If’s” ahead of time, not after the procedure was over. I am guessing without knowing yet, the breathing tube was inserted due to a complication. My daughter will discuss with the surgeon at her follow up appointment.

  10. Lee says:

    I had gallbladder surgery last monday and as I was coming to I couldn’t breath, it was a horrible thing to go through. They told me that my larynx had a spasm and closed on the breathing tube. Nobody really will tell me more, and when I called to see why it happened they talked using full names of everyone involved like my call was being recorded. I have had 6 surgeries prior to this, including a heart valve replacement, and never experienced this before. It has been 8 days and I can’t talk for long without my voice getting raspy and my throat becomes sore. How long will it take for my voice to return? I don’t like how everyone involved is avoiding talking to me about it. Am I asking the wrong questions?

    • DrJoe says:

      Lee,

      I am sorry you had this frightening experience. And I am sure it has been frustrating not to get the answers you are looking for.

      From what you are describing, it sounds as if you did have an episode of laryngospasm when you were waking up from anesthesia. Of course, I would continue to try and get answers from healthcare providers that took care of you that day, though.

      Laryngospasm can occur for a variety reasons. One of the most common occurs when blood or secretions fall onto the vocal cords as a person is awakening from anesthesia. Usually these episodes can be treated with a couple of manual techniques by the anesthesiologist. If the first manuevers do not help, IV medicine can be given and the breathing tube may need to be placed again.

      If the placement of the breathing tube was difficult to begin with, this may result in a sore throat after surgery. See the post on difficult intubation for more details. I cannot tell you when your voice may improve, but it should return to normal.

      I think you have been asking the right questions. We are happy you have sent your comments to us as well. Feel free to visit our forum to post further details of your experience there. Let us know how you are feeling over the next few days.

  11. Jeff says:

    I underwent outpatient surgery with general anesthesia last Friday to have a growth removed from my chin. My throat is still a mess from the breathing tube–even drinking water is painful and I have been unable to eat solid food yet. I take it that this is not common. What could cause this and are there steps I can take to avoid it if I require surgery in the future?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Some amount of throat soreness, lasting up to a couple days, is not uncommon following general anesthesia with a breathing tube or LMA. Some have found that cepacol lozenges help soothe the throat.

      But having the type of pain your describe this far out from your procedure (preventing you from eating solids foods) does NOT sound typical.

      It may be a good idea to have your doc take a look at your throat to make sure there isn’t something else going on.

      Hope you feel better soon.

      Dr. Dave

  12. Mary Colosi says:

    My thyroid was removed a week and a half ago and I still have a sore throat. Also it’s very difficult to speak sometimes and my words don’t come out right. Is this caused by breathing tube and was a larger tube used for this type of surgery. Thanks

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi Mary,

      Most likely, the same size of breathing tube was used for your thyroid surgery as for any other type of surgery you might undergo. Often times, we use a special type of breathing tube during thyroid surgery to help the surgeons monitor nerve function in your windpipe muscles. However, the outer diameter of these endotracheal tubes is almost the same as a standard endotracheal tube.

      If indeed your surgeon did request the anesthesiologist to place this special tube, why dont we do this for every case? Not all surgeries have a risk of injury to the nerves of the windpipe, so the added cost of the special breathing tube is not indicated.

      I would expect your sore throat to go away soon. If you were difficult to intubate, your throat may be a little more sore than others. If this was not the case, I would put in a call to your surgeon to let them know how your throat and voice are doing. They may need to see you in their office sooner than later.

      Hope this helps. Best of luck to you!

      Dr. Joe

  13. trikatykid says:

    I had my first surgery on Jan 23rd. I had downplayed the “procedure” so much that I was starting to get a little anxious when I found myself on a gurney, in a gown, hairnet, IV, etc, etc, etc. The anesthesiologist warned me of a bit of a sore throat when I woke up (from the tube) and I was surprised to hear that.

    When I woke (which seemed like it was immediately after the Anesthesiologist said, “I’m going to give you something to make you care less”) I did have a bit of a sore throat but it was the last thing on my mind once the residual pain from the surgery started to set in – that pain lasted about 30 seconds before the nurse realized I was experiencing pain and gave me some pain killers and NSAIDs through my IV.

    In the end, there should be no anxiety over a breathing tube. If you are under general anesthesia for surgery, chances are the surgery is to take care of a problem that needs a surgeon’s attention. A trained anesthesiologist will be able to recognize when you need a breathing tube and it will keep you alive and healthy. Life seems like a fair trade for a 30 second sore throat.

    The anesthesia hangover was a lot worse than the sore throat or the pain (all of which was controlled with a bit of medication). Just give your body a chance to sleep and recover without a deadline! That’s my advice. Be patient, and trust the medical staff and if it helps – pray!

    • DrJoe says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. And I am glad that you did well with the surgery and anesthesia. I hope other readers will take your advice. Come back again!

  14. Gail Oates says:

    My husband was put into a induced coma after surgery to remove a tumor on his pancreas in late November 2006. After 2.5 weeks on life support, the wake up procedure began. After a week they said to me that they really wanted to remove the tube down his throat as they said some damage can occur by being left in. Due to still not being able to breath on his own they had to do a tracheometry so they could remove the tube. After a week he was able to breath on his own and on Christmas day 2011 the trachy was removed.
    It is now six years and his voice has not really come back to normal He has been experiencing a lot of choking coughing attacks lately, after talking for a while,and after eating. Now he is feeling like even talking is a strain and his voice is croakey. Do you think there could have been some damage from the breathing tube?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Thanks for your question Gail,

      There can be long term effects/complications, such as some of the ones you describe, from breathing tubes being in place for extended periods of time. I suspect this is why a tracheostomy was performed: your husband may not have been “strong enough” to breathe on his own, but leaving a breathing tube for too long has its own set of risks.

      Here are a couple of things for you and your husband to consider:

      An ENT surgeon would be the right type of physician to see in order to figure out what is going on with the voice and the vocal cords.

      The choking and coughing also is worrisome. If there is a significant problem here it can result in aspiration.

      It may be a good idea to speak to his doctor about this issue. If they feel it’s necessary, a swallowing evaluation can be done to figure out exactly what is going on and what his risk is with feeding.

      I hope this information helps.

      Dr. Dave

  15. Maureen Schrader says:

    I had a cyst removed from my neck on, right below my jaw, on the left side. My throat is still extrememly sore and my ear hurts as a result of the sore throat. It has been five days. I have done everything the nurses suggested and was told there were no problems inserting the breathing tube. Upon looking in my throat, I found that it was extremely red, bruised, and white on the left side. Is this normal?

    • DrJoe says:

      So sorry to hear about your sore throat. It is unlikely for your throat to be sore this many days out from being intubated. Especially since there was no mention of a difficult intubation.

      However, given the fact that your surgery was in the same area (at least on the outside) of where your sore throat is, I would discuss the pain with your surgeon. Hopefully, you will be seeing them soon for your postoperative visit. He or she can look in your throat to see if there is any further treatment that you need.

      Please let us know what happens. Thanks for your question.

  16. Janice Myers says:

    My mother had a heart attack at 11:00 a.m. at 9:30 p.m. her breathing was extreamly labored…At 9:45 p.m. they sent us away so they could put in a breathing tube…With our permission. At 10:01 p.m. her heart stopped while trying to plac the breathing tube in and she died…This was 3 days ago. 2-15-13. I am so heart broken, I am still in shock.Please tell me what could of happened???Please!!!

    • DrJoe says:

      Janice……So very sorry to hear that your mom has passed away. And since it was so sudden, I can’t even begin to imagine how you are feeling. Hopefully you have other family and friends surrounding you to help you through this sad time.

      I know you want an explanation as to what transpired in the hospital, but the best person to ask would be the physician that was in charge of your mom’s care. I don’t want to give you any guesses and lead you in the wrong direction.

      Please know that we are thinking about you and your family…..

      • Janice Myers says:

        Dr. Joe, Thanks so very much, I truly appreciate you responding to me. The physician that took care of my mother said the chemo treatments she had been having in the past 6 weeks really weakened her heart. She had cancer she was fighting…Cancer in her uterus, cancer in the cervix, and in the pelvic wall. She was in the fight for her life, and I guess her poor little heart couldn’t take much more…My family and I are doing okay, but we didn’t think we would loose her that day…We were not ready, we would never be ready. It all happened so fast!
        I really couldn’t think that day…She suffered so much with the pain of cancer. It really wasn’t my mom, as she loved life so much. She was fighting so hard and never missed a treatment, even as sick as she was. Doctor also said she must of had an underlying heart condition, as well as chemo made her heart weaker.
        Thanks so much for getting back to me.
        Blessings, Janice

    • Dr Dave says:

      I would like to echo Dr. Joe’s sentiments and extend my heartfelt condolences as well. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

      It would be unfair for us to guess what happened (especially with such limited information). As Dr. Joe mentioned, the best place to start getting the answers you need are with the physicians taking care of your mom.

      Dr. Dave

      • Janice Myers says:

        Dr. Dave, Thanks so much for getting back to me, I really appreciate it! My mom they say had a weakened heart for chemo treatments. She was still going through radiation and chemo at the time she passed. She had cervical cancer, uterine cancer, and cancer in the pelvic wall…She was in the fight of her life, and her heart was weakened by the chemo the doctors told my sister and I. It was just all so sudden and so terribly sad…I know she is at peace and out of pain, I just thought we had more time…I never thought a heart attack would be the way she went…She was only 66.
        Thanks again!
        Janice

  17. Diane says:

    Back in 1999 I had developed ARSD and was put on a Vent. I was told that a few days I bite down and broke some thing. My husband was there and found something to put between my teeth and needed to be reintubated. I was on the vent for 10 days. What did I do?

    • DrJoe says:

      Diane,

      Thanks for your question. It is very difficult to say exactly what happened in 1999 without more information. However, it may help to describe a typical scenario when someone is intubated and placed on a ventilator.

      If someone is intubated in the ICU, there is a need to keep the breathing tube in proper position. Many times this involves a kind of “chin strap” for lack of a better term. Also, the person may have a “bite block” in their mouth. This is to keep them from biting down on the breathing tube, which can kink the tube or keep air from flowing in and out. In worst cases, the teeth can cause damage to the breathing tube or it may become completely dislodged from the windpipe / mouth area.

      This means that the tube will need to replaced (“reintubated”). Perhaps this is in the realm of what happened to you during that time. I hope this helps. Thanks for visiting!

  18. Bob says:

    I had TURP surgery 3 days ago. I was told nothing about a tube in my throat. But my throat was extremely sore. For 24 hours I could hardly swallow. Second day was’nt much better? Today (3rd) day is some better. So why does it make throat sore sometime and not other times??

    • Bob,

      Thanks for your question and I am sorry to hear about your sore throat.

      To answer your question, there are several reasons why your throat may be sore after one anesthetic but not after another. Sometimes one anesthesiologist may have an easier time placing the breathing tube. Secondly, you might have had a laryngeal mask airway (LMA) placed for one of your cases instead of a breathing tube. One procedure might have been longer than the other, meaning that the breathing tube was in place for a longer period of time.

      Did the anesthesiologist mention anything to you or your family after the case? If someone has been a difficult intubation, I will mention it to the family so that future anesthesiologists can plan accordingly.

      I hope this helps. Let us know if you find out more information.

  19. Matt says:

    I just had a cardiac ablation surgery and they put a tube in my mouth and it still hurts how to i treat this?

    • Matt,

      Sorry to hear about your sore throat. If your throat is sore due to the breathing tube, it should resolve over a few days. If it lasts longer than a week, I would let the doctor know. In the meantime, I recommend using a throat lozenge such as “cepacol” lozenges. These can help numb the throat for a bit and provide some relief. Hope this helps.

      By the way, if the anesthesiologist mentioned that you were a difficult intubation, see this post as well.

      Talk to you soon.

  20. Rachael says:

    Will something as simple as t tube surgery require intubation? As its only a minor surgery

    • Rachael,

      Thanks for your question. Honestly, the answer is that “it just depends.”

      The anesthesiologist’s job is to keep you as safe as possible. That may mean that in your situation, having a breathing tube during the procedure is the best option. I have intubated patients before for procedures only lasting a few minutes. And for the same procedure on another patient with different issues, I did not place a breathing tube.

      So it really just depends. Is there anything in particular that you are worried about? Let us know when you get a chance.

      • sierra says:

        I had a surgery done where they used a breathing tube and a piece of skin is torn in my throat and hanging it makes me feel like I am choking all the time what should I do about this

        • David Draghinas says:

          Sierra,

          I am sorry to hear about this issue for you.

          It would be a good idea to talk to a physician and have them take a look at your throat. Your anesthesiologist may also have some more information for you, such as, if there was any difficulty placing your breathing tube. This information may prove valuable if you ever have surgery and need to have a breathing tube placed again.

          Praying for your health and recovery,

          Dr. Dave

  21. Rachel says:

    Hi, I had septorhinoplasty 4 days ago and wasn’t told about a breathing tube prior to the op but as soon as I awoke I complained about my sore throat and the nurses told me a breathing tube had been used. 4 days on and I’m still suffering with a sore throat. It feels like laryngitis which I have had twice before! It’s so painful that initially swallowing was unbearable! I now have the worst cough and every now and then an intense tickle in my throat that causes me to cough uncontrollably for a few minutes.

    I am also now full of cold whereas I was completely well before the op. I am hoping the cough and sore throat will go in a couple of days but if not I will be speaking to my surgeon about this. I would have preferred the mask!

    • Rachel,

      I am sorry to hear about your sore throat, especially since you didn’t know this could happen. Did anyone mention that you were a difficult intubation? Sometimes a sore throat is evidence of a difficult intubation situation.

      One thing that might provide relief is to use Cepacol lozenges. Here in Texas, you can purchase them from a Walgreens or CVS. These lozenges can help with the sore throat.

      Hope you feel better soon.

      • Rachel says:

        Thanks Joe but I’m in the UK so I’m not sure I can get those lozenges here but if this continues I will go to the chemists.

        Nobody mentioned difficult intubation but I did notice that I had been in theatre nearly 2 hours when I should have only been an hour so perhaps this could be due to difficult intubation? I am still suffering with a terrible cough and cold. I feel like having the op has made me ill! I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who has had these problems though.

        Thank You

        • Rachel,

          The fact that you were in the operating room (I always love how it is referred to as the theatre in the UK!!) for more than an hour is not unusual. Surgeons do their best to predict how long a surgery will take, but every patient is different. And if there were any problems, the surgeon would have mentioned them to you and your family at the conclusion of the surgery. So I am willing to bet that nothing out of the ordinary occurred during your case and it just took a little bit longer than expected.

          Doing a quick search, I found a popular lozenge in the UK called “Strepsils.” It is actually the same company that produces the Cepacol lozenge. Are those in your stores there? If you do use these and find relief from them, let me know. I will recommend them to other folks that visit the site from the UK.

  22. Karen says:

    I had surgery for an umbilical hernia on Thursday and a breathing tube was used. I had a slight sore throat upon waking up and was a bit hoarse. The sore throat and hoarseness has passed however I keep getting what feels like a sinus flare up. Basically, when I eat anything I have pain on both sides of the roof of my mouth (way back near my throat) that feels like my sinuses flaring up. It’s definitely a sensation I have felt in the past and is either sinuses or taste buds or something flaring up. In addition, my sinuses feel really dry and I was very stuffed up last night. Is this connected to the breathing tube possibly??? Did not have any of this before the surgery.

    • Karen,

      Thanks for sending us your question. It does not sound like your sinus flare up is related to the breathing tube. Of course, the sore throat and hoarseness was probably a result of having an endotracheal tube.

      What is more likely is that the stresses of surgery weakened your body’s immune system a bit. This probably made you more susceptible to contracting a sinus infection.

      I hope this helps answer your question. Talk to you soon.

  23. I had an emergency appendectomy 4 days ago. A breathing tube was used during general anesthesia. Someone pulled the tube out of my throat very abruptly while I was in recovery, and this launched me into a major coughing fit. I have had soreness, throat congestion and a very, very hoarse voice ever since. It doesn’t seem to be improving. Should I be worried???

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Lori Ann.

      It’s fairly common to have a sore throat for the next day or so after surgery. I would expect this to have resolved or be significantly improved four days later.

      It may be a good idea to see your physician and make sure there isn’t something else going on.

      Please keep us updated on your condition. I am pulling for your speedy recovery.

      Dr. Dave.

  24. Chevi daniels says:

    Hi I had double jaw surgery which took around 4.5 hours what I found strange was that my breathing tube was placed through my chin just by the neck and brought up through just under the tounge and fed Down the throat which require incisions. I have bad scar tissue now just below the chin and wonder why it wasn’t placed down the nose .

    • Chevi,

      Thanks for your question. Your surgery sounds very complicated.

      For head and neck surgery cases, the breathing tube is sometimes placed through the nose, as you mentioned. Other times, a tracheostomy may be planned. In this situation, the breathing tube is placed into a small incision in the neck while you are asleep.

      These type of surgeries require an open dialogue between the surgeon and anesthesiologist to plan for the placement of the breathing tube.

      I would speak with your surgeon. They can definitely answer your question about the breathing tube.

      I hope you have a speedy recovery.

  25. Taniesha says:

    Hello, yesterday I had surgery to remove a papilloma from my vocal cords and a breathing tube was used. They told me after the surgery that he had trouble inserting the tube and I can tell. The whole back of my mouth is bruised and red spots and my uvula looks like a layer of skin is peeling off and is very long and I keep choking on it. My throat is very sore still. Is this normal and will it take more then a day or two to get better from it?

    • Taniesha,

      I am sure you are in a lot of discomfort right now. Thanks for sending us your question.

      I am glad that someone let you know that you were a difficult intubation. This will be important to let the anesthesiologist know if you ever require anesthesia again.

      It is not uncommon to have a sore throat after being intubated. And if the intubation was difficult, it is definitely more common for you to wake up with a sore throat. Difficult intubations are not rare in our practice.

      As for when your sore throat will go away, it is hard to say. But if it does not improve each day and is still present after ten days, I would see your doctor. In addition, if it worsens at any point, you should call your doctor.

      Please see Dr. Dave’s post on difficult intubations though which may provide added information for you.

      I hope you feel better soon. Please come back and let us know when things are back to normal.

  26. Crabby says:

    I would like to reassure everyone that despite being phenomally anxious pre knee surgery, it was brilliant (!). The surgeon inserted a canula in a room outside the opperating theatre and that was the worse bit, i quickly felt relaxed and remember being wheeled into theatre looking round fasinated, the next thing i knew i had a fraction of a wonderful dream and then I was aware again, but not totally conscious, there were kind nurses around me holding my hand. Apparently i had a breathing tube and was asked to pull it out myself, i have no knowledge of this or feeling of discomfort. I was in discomfort, not pain and given relief for this and wheeled back to my room.
    GA was great, much superior to any iv sedation i have had, and much preferable to any dentist. Seriously its never as bad as you think, go for it and feel better when your problem is sorted. Im so glad i did this!!

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m glad it was a pleasant one.

      If you don’t mind, where did you have your surgery? It sounds like it may have been in the UK?

      Dr. Dave

  27. Lynda says:

    I had a breast lift with augmentation 5 days ago and was intubated. I had a mild sore throat that turned into very severe. My uvula is swollen and turned white and flaked off. It has gotten so painful I can’t eat solids and barely liquids. I already saw an ENT and he didn’t seem to concerned. I am on an antibiotic and pain med. what the heck could have happened? How much longer with this pain?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Lynda.

      I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. It sounds like you are taking precautions to make sure this isn’t something concerning (seeing the ENT, getting medicine, etc).

      Although there can be some throat soreness afterwards, being intubated isn’t typically this traumatic. If the anesthesiologist had some trouble intubating you (ie. you were a difficult intubation), then there’s a chance for a more traumatic intubation.

      It may be worth it to let your anesthesiologist know of your experience and ask if there was any trouble with the intubation. That’s information you would want to know and pass on to anyone else performing anesthesia for you in the future.

      I hope you feel better soon!

      Dr. Dave

  28. Kristine says:

    Wednesday I had a port put in and they told me I had a breathing tube. When I woke up my throat didn’t really hurt it was just dry but now it hurts to swallow. Sometimes it hurts worse than where I was cut open. Also I have a bump inside my mouth. Is that because of the breathing tube?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Kristine.

      It’s not uncommon to have some throat soreness for the next few days after surgery and breathing tube placement. But this typically improves with time from the actual procedure.

      It sounds like your pain is getting worse, however. And the bump inside your mouth is not common.

      Things you can do include calling your anesthesiologist, telling him/her about what you are experiencing, and asking if there were any issues with your intubation. It may also be smart to have a physician take a look inside your mouth to get a better sense of what’s going on.

      I hope you feel better soon. Please let us know what you find out.

      Dr. Dave

  29. Karen says:

    Reading previous post, I only saw the mention of a bad taste mentioned once.

    Yesterday I had an MRI with sedation and was intubated for the test. I woke to only a very slight soreness in my throat, dry moth, a migraine, and worse of all a horrible taste in my mouth and horrible smell in my nose. Over the last 24 hours everything has resolved except for the horrible taste and smell and I have developed a productive cough with thick yellow sputum. Each time I cough the bad taste is intensified.

    I am one of the unfortunate individuals that is very sensitive to smells. I cannot tolerate most types of perfumes, no scented candles, and cannot even walk down the laundry supply aisle. Smells have an immediate reaction on me causing my ears, nose, and throat to burn. If I cannot remove myself away from the irritant I end up with a full blown respiratory/sinus infection.

    Right before being sedated I was handed an O2 mask to hold to my face. It had the same awful smell. The same smell was also present when I had to wear a nasal cannula in the past during a procedure.

    Could the productive cough and the constant sickening taste/smell of a chemical and plastic nature be caused by the ET tube? Is there anything to make me feel better and should I be concerned with the development of the productive cough and burning in my chest, nose and ears? I’ve ate, drank, brushed my teeth repetitively, rinsed out my nose, and gargled mouthwash.

    • Karen,

      I am glad you asked these questions because I have not heard someone describe the taste and smell of plastic after being intubated. At first glance, I relate most of the symptoms (other than your sore throat and dry mouth) to your sinus infection.

      However, I can suspect that for you, it would not be a surprise that the endotracheal tube caused more irritation. With the aversions you have to smells, it is likely that even the slighest changes in your environment could irritate you.

      I would be concerned about the development of the productive cough and burning in your chest. But it would be very uncommon for this to be related to the actual breathing tube material itself.

      And I think you are taking the necessary steps to treat your illness. Also make sure you get plenty of rest and drink fluids to allow your body to recover. If you feel that you have a fever, your cough persists or worsens, or the burning in your chest does not resolve, please contact your doctor.

      Sometimes a “burning in the chest” feeling is a result of acid reflux from the stomach. This is common and may cause a bad taste in your mouth as well. Have you ever had trouble with heartburn or acid reflux?

      I will remember your story if I ever have a patient describe having this bad taste after being intubated. I hope this helps and that you feel better soon.

      • Karen says:

        Thank you for taking the time to reply. It has now been 3 days and the productive cough and burning in my chest are resolving, as well as, the bad taste and smell. I was not sure if it made medical since, but I truly felt my signs and symptoms were being caused by the taste/smell that I could not get rid of. Like I before mentioned, if I’m around perfumes and unable to get away from them I will get a full blown upper respiratory infection or a flare up of bronchitis. Thanks again for your response.

  30. tamika wilks says:

    Ok today i had the LEEP surgery done.my doctor told me that there will be a breathing tube placed in my throat during the procedure..though everything was fine at first and i was discharged shortly afterwards with minor to little pain.when i returned home the pain finally set it.the right side of my gums on the lingual section is bruised from the tube and i also have some skin missing,not to mention when i swallow it feels as though im swallowing my uvula.my legs are super sore and of course the section that has been operated on also.my question is,,is it normal for my mouth to be this sore and released with no medications and also my legs even though the surgery was not performed on my legs?

    • Thanks for trusting us with your questions. I am sorry to hear about your sore throat.

      It is not uncommon to have a sore throat for a couple of days after being intubated. I usually tell patients that they may have a sore throat, but that I do not expect it to occur.

      The good news is that it is rare to have any permanent damage to your throat after being intubated during an anesthetic. The tissue usually heals on its own without any specific treatment needed other than supportive care.

      I would recommend eating a soft, bland diet to minimize the irritation you are experiencing. Also, you can try using Cepacol lozenges which have some numbing effect on your throat.

      As for the soreness in your legs, this is unlikely to be related to the anesthesia. For these type of procedures, your positioning while asleep is very important for your surgeon. Without the proper positioning, the surgeon cannot do their best work. Sometimes this positioning can cause some soreness in the legs that resolves a few days.

      But there are many other reasons for leg soreness after surgery. If it persists or worsens, please let your surgeon know.

      Let us know when you start to feel better.

      • Kerry says:

        Hi I had a ct entroclysis yesterday … It was done while I was awake ( very mean but normal ) they sprayed a local anesthetiser in my nose and throat and put the tube up my nose down throat all the way through stomach and intestines and ran rods dies liquids etc through for an hour and a half it was awful he had trouble getting it down and took twice as long as normal apparently, (the whole thing hurt and i gagged continuosly on each new liquid etc) then when I had to walk! From the X-ray room to the scanner room I blacked out and had to be laid down once I recovered they continued. When it was finally over I hurt .. Everything even food and water hurt the whole way down to exit so I stuck with liquid today. Felt faint a lot and had a pain in my right shoulder blade / hip / lower back and what feels like nerve pain/discomfort / pin needle/ tingling/itching on my entire right side from head to toe now mostly gone but still pins needles in right hand arm leg foot and ear is burning hot inside and blocked on right side is this normal ? Part of the test they injected me with a muscle relaxer for bowels and some other poison that felt like lava to every single capillary. I called them they said if shoulder tip pain need to go to my dr but I called doc to ask and she hasn’t called back I assume its not serious

  31. Kerry says:

    Hi I posted above … I also had a strange rash under my right arm ? The burning ear znd rash wouldn’t be sign of infection? I’m very prone to infection from past op experience. Also tingling feeling is in my right side of my face

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your posts, Kerry.

      It sounds like you’ve been through so much recently.

      If you continue to have pain and/or an unusual rash, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. Please let us know if you learn anything else about what is going on.

      You are in our thoughts and prayers.

      Dr. Dave

  32. Amanda says:

    Hello! I am set to have gastric sleeve surgery in a few months and I am very anxious about having the breathing tube in, mainly that I will feel it upon awaking (my surgeon says I have to be fully awake before it is removed) and I will either bite it, gag, vomit, or have a panic attack. What measures are typically taken to avoid these things? Also, what is the average size of the tube? Is it larger than the average pinky finger? Thanks!

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thank you so much for sending us your questions. The anxiety you are feeling is very normal and I think that a little explanation may help…….

      At the end of general anesthesia, the anesthesia medicines are decreased and you start to wake up. When the anesthesiologist is confident that you are able to “protect your airway” against potential aspiration, then the breathing tube is removed as the anesthesia continues to wear off.

      Without getting into all the details, I will tell you that it would be unlikely for you to remember any of this process. In fact, if by some rare chance you had any memory of the breathing tube, it is even more unlikely that it would bother you. This is because you will still have anesthesia medicines “on board” during this entire experience.

      The best way I can help is to tell you to talk to any friends or family members that have had surgery before. Ask them what, if anything, that they remember. When I had surgery, I didn’t remember anything. :)

      The breathing tube is about the diameter of an average pinky finger. That is a good analogy.

      I also encourage you to check out some other posts that address various parts of your question:

      Anesthesia for Lap Band Surgery as well as Obesity and Anesthesia

      Finally, I also recommend checking out 5 Questions You Should Ask Your Anesthesiologist Prior to Going Under.

      Hope this helps!

      Let us know if you have any other questions.

  33. Stephanie says:

    Hello! I have a few general questions about intubation. First of all, my 2 year old son has had 2 major open heart surgeries both of which required extended intubation times. His first surgery required almost 2 weeks total. He was extubated, and wasnt able to maintain adequate o2 levels, so he needed to be reintubated. Once we came upon the 10-12 day mark I was informed that if he wasnt able to hold his own in a few days he would need a trach. The second time he was intubated for roughly a week, but was able to wean fairly easily. When I questioned the possibility of a trach I was told that it is standard to place one if a person is not able to maintain proper o2 levels after 10-14 days of intubation. Can you tell me what the long term effects would be to being intubated for an extended period of time? Can long term intubation cause permanant lung damage? Also, my son was described as being very positional with his breathing tube, and had to have it taken out of his mouth and run through his nasal cavity, because every time he moved his head or body he would gag and or vomit. Why would one place cause a person to react that way and not the other?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      First of all, let me say that your little one and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. I’ve got a 3 month old little girl (our first), and I can’t imagine having her go through major heart surgery. I pray for the health and safety of your child, and for strength for you and the rest of your family.

      When patients (and especially little children) are intubated for extended periods of time, we start worrying about long term damage to the larynx and trachea. The pressures from the tube can start damaging the mucosa lining the airway and possibly the structures of the larynx. With time, this can turn into more severe and permanent damage, leading to the possibility of scarring and stenosis within the airway.

      When you mentioned his breathing tube was “positional”, my initial thought went elsewhere. The far tip of the breathing tube typically ends in the trachea (or the windpipe) above the carina (this is where the trachea divides into the left and right bronchus). If the tip ventures further down, into one of the main bronchi, only the lung on that side will get ventilated and oxygenated. If that occurs, we sometimes say the tube is “positional”.

      I imagine in a 2 year old, where the length of the trachea is much smaller, a significant amount of movement of the head and neck might cause the tube to slip into a less than ideal position.

      It may also be that having a tube run through the mouth, as opposed to through the nose and back of the throat, is more stimulating and causes more gagging and discomfort.

      I hope this information helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions. And keep us posted on how your little one is doing.

      Dr. Dave

  34. amanda says:

    I had my tubes tied recently. This was my first time ever going under. My wake up experience was terrible. Apparently I woke up too soon, and they were not paying attention to me. After 5 seconds of being awake I began to freak out because I could not breathe. I had no idea what was happening, and after struggling to brethe for what felt like forever I realized something was blocking my air way. I then start to pull out the thing in my throat. The man who had put me to sleep stops me mid way, and pulls the tube out the rest of the way. I could not catch my breath for about 10 mins, and when I gasp out that I cant breath, the man proceedes to tell me I cant breathe because I am a smoker. I will never go under again. I woke up in terrible pain, and struggling for air!

    • David Draghinas says:

      Amanda,

      I am so sorry for your horrific experience.

      Though I know it won’t help you get over this ordeal, I’d like to let you know this is NOT the typical experience. Most people that have been intubated for surgery have no memory of the breathing tube and extubation (removal of the breathing tube).

      I’m sorry you had to go though that. Should you ever require surgery and a breathing tube (I know you don’t want to think about that), let your anesthesiologist know about your concerns, fears, and this painful experience. They should be able to put your mind at ease that your next experience won’t be like this one.

      Praying for your complete recovery,

      Dr. Dave

  35. Randy says:

    Put under for the first time for sinus surgery Wednesday. Ended up with a elongated uvula with a white tip on the end. It is now touching my tongue very uncomfortable. I heard that tube can do that and it should go away in two weeks, not happy its more annoying than the surgery I had on my face

  36. Karen says:

    I had out patient surgery on August 28, 2013 to repair a hole in my ear drum. Today I still can not complete a yawn or cough because something must have happened when the tube was down my throat during surgery. Also I sometimes have the feeling you get when something you swallow goes down the wrong way. Should I contact someone about this or will it go away? I don’t have a raspy throat, my problem is farther down.

    • Karen,

      Sorry to hear about your throat.

      Did the anesthesiologist mention anything about a difficult intubation to you or your family? Sometimes this can be a situation that causes discomfort in your throat.

      However, if no one mentioned anything to you, the intubation was probably routine. For routine intubations, I would not expect much of a sore throat to occur. And if discomfort did occur, it should not last more than a week.

      In your case, I would contact your doctor if your throat discomfort does not improve after a week or if at any point, it starts to worsen.

      Hope this helps. Best of luck and let us know how things turn out for you.

      • Karen says:

        Thank you for your reply. Nothing was mentioned to me or my family about a difficult intubation, but I am going to pursue the issue. My discomfort is not in my throat, it seems to be in the middle of my back. I plan to call the doctor one week after surgery if it is not better. I worry something happened that could cause future intubations to be a problem, if they are needed if other surgeries are in my future.

  37. Jordynne says:

    Dr. Dave please help me. I had surgery about a month ago and when coming out of the anesthesia they said I clenched down on my tube so hard that I blocked my airway for several minutes. I ended up with negative pressure pulmonary edema. Is this something that will happen everytime I have surgery? I am supposed to have another outpatient surgery done soon and I am afraid of this happening again. Also, do you know why people clench on their tube?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Jordynne,

      Thanks for your question.

      It sounds like you may have experienced severe laryngospasm and subsequent negative pressure pulmonary edema.

      Rarely, when the breathing tube is removed at the end of surgery, the vocal cords can spasm into a “shut” position. As you know, this prevents oxygen from being able to pass into the windpipe, the lungs, and the rest of your body. Your chest muscles try to make you take a breath, but the vocal cords close off the airway. This can generate negative pressure in your lungs, and hence, the pulmonary edema.

      Anesthesiologists have several techniques to break this “spasm”.

      The laryngospasm can sometimes be caused by secretions, or blood, or fluid that trickles onto the vocal cords and irritates them as the breathing tube is removed.

      Just because you’ve experienced laryngospasm before does not mean it is going to happen again.

      My suggestion is to let your anesthesiologist know about that experience. He/she will then pay special attention to this issue at the end of your procedure.

      We are all pulling for you to have a smoother and safe experience with your next surgery. Please come back and let us know how you did.

      Dr. Dave

  38. Kim says:

    Hello,
    I had LAVH on 8/27/13 and upon waking had what I thought was a sore throat but it persisted for more than 3 days. I saw my PCP and he said I looked like the roof of my mouth had been bruised by the tube and since my teeth felt fine to see my dentist if it didn’t feel better in a couple of days. Needless to say, I had to see the dentist and he agreed that there was a contusion on the roof of my mouth. By this time, part of the roof of my mouth felt numb but the dentist said it should go away. Almost 3 weeks after surgery and the contusion is still there with some soreness and the right side of the roof of my mouth and gums on that side still are numb. Will it eventually be normal again?

    Thanks
    Kim

    • Kim,

      Thanks for sending us your question. So sorry to hear about the soreness in your mouth as well.

      Hearing your story makes me think everything in your mouth and throat will return back to normal. It is obviously just taking longer than expected. Did the anesthesiologist mention anything to you or your family about a difficult intubation?

      You are takng the necessary steps to make sure you heal appropriately including asking your question here, visiting your PCP, and following up with your dentist.

      Hope this helps. Let us know when the discomfort goes completely away.

  39. Megan says:

    Hey. I recently had lyproscopic gallbladder surgery where a breathing tube was used. It has been 9 days since the surgery. Since then I am not able to lay on my right side. When I breath I get a horrible pain in my lungs that radiates into my throat. I feel like even if I were able to stand the pain of breathing while laying on the side, my lungs wouldn’t let me get a deep breath. Is this a side effect of the tube ? I thought it would go away by now but it’s getting worse ech day. If I lay on the other side it’s fine. I also have that is constant but not too horrible around my left colavical. Thanks, Megan

    • Megan says:

      I also have a constant pain but its not too horrible around my left calivacle. (Is what the last sentence is suppose to say)

    • David Draghinas says:

      Megan,

      Having this kind of pain nine days after surgery, and the fact that it seems to be getting worse, sounds concerning.

      It would be a good idea to speak with your physician, let them know what you’re experiencing, and perhaps go in to be “checked out”.

      Best of luck to you. I hope you get back to normal soon.

      Dr. Dave

  40. Cammy says:

    I had breast surgery 9/20/13, 3 days ago. After awakening in the recovery room, I noticed that the tip of my tongue was numb. It still feels tingly, my surgeon said it was probably due to the breathing tube & lidocaine. Is numb tongue a typical side effect? Will it go away? My lip and front lower teeth are a little tingly too. It is a very strange sensation, not unlike dental work numbing.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Cammy.

      If you are still feeling the numbness, it would be a good idea to speak with your anesthesiologist. They can give you details if there was any difficulty with the placement of the breathing tube and any other thoughts they have on the cause of your numbness.

      Lidocaine can cause some numbness (if it was used), but I wouldn’t expect it to last more than a few hours. Other possibilities include the position of the breathing tube, or perhaps, the use of an oral airway.

      I hope you are feeling better. Please let us know what you find out.

      Dr. Dave

  41. maribel zuniga says:

    My son just had oral surgery yesterday and they used a breathing tube in his nose, from the right side he was bleeding after the surgery and even when we got home, then early morning he was having think discharge today I looked inside of his nose and on the right side he can’t breath because is swollen, what can I do to helping he is 7 years old.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question Maribel.

      I’m sorry your son is having some issues following the surgery. As you know, when surgery is done in the mouth, it sometimes becomes helpful to perform the intubation via the nose.

      While I can not give you any specific medical advice, what would be concerning to me is if there was continuous bleeding there. Other things that would be concerning is if this is causing any difficulty breathing and/or any fevers.

      With breathing problems you should seek immediate medical attention. And with any of the issues mentioned above, his surgeon should be updated about what is going on.

      I hope your little one makes a full recovery as soon as possible. Please let us know how his recovery is going.

      Dr. Dave

  42. Rama says:

    I had a D & C about 5 weeks ago and my jaw has been sore since. It hurts to open my jaw and is sometimes hard to chew. I think it might be related to the breathing tube? I wasn’t concerned for the first few days but it doesn’t seem to be getting much better. Could this be from the breathing tube? Will it get better? Is there anything I can do to make it better?

    Thanks.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Rama,

      If you are still having jaw soreness, a could place to start is to speak with your anesthesiologist. He/she could tell you if a breathing tube was used, and if there were any difficulties with the placement.

      Many times, a breathing tube isn’t necessary for a D&C. An LMA might be used, for example. In that case, I wouldn’t expect the jaw pain and difficulty chewing. There can be some throat soreness, but typically not the symptoms you describe.

      Hopefully, you are feeling much better now. Please let us know what you find out.

      All the best,

      Dr. Dave

  43. Charlene says:

    Yesterday I had sinus surgery (right side)….awoke with a sore throat which has since almost disappeared. What I’m experiencing is a wet cough that seems to be coming from the upper part of my right chest and boy is it phlemgy and hurting. No issue before the surgery. I was going to call the doctor today but didn’t want to seem like a big baby…but I’m getting a bit concernerd.

  44. Taylor says:

    I miscarried for the third time, I had my third d & c on Wednesday. The two prior I recovered from well. This one however, has been a nightmare. The day of surgery I slept a lot so I didn’t feel much pain. I think I also had meds from surgery helping with pain. But the next day I woke up with a huge sore in the back of my throat with cuts around it and my tongue was swollen at the tip. It is now Sunday and I am in severe pain I can barely talk and I can’t eat. This obviously occurred from the breathing tube. I am a person that can handle pain and I am at a breaking point! My tongue has an ulster the right side of my throat has a huge sore and cuts and my right ear is in constant pain. Please help with what to do.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Taylor,

      I am sorry to hear your recovery has been so difficult.

      What you are describing is not typical. This does not sound like the usual “sore throat” that folks can get following breathing tube placement and extubation.

      It would be a good idea to see your doctor very soon, so that he/she can evaluate what is going and manage your care from there.

      I hope you get better soon. Please let us know how you do.

      Dr. Dave

  45. vanesa chollar says:

    My mom who is 80 had a procedure done on her back and suffered negative pressure pulmonary edema during intubation. She spent a week in the hospital under heavy sedation but is fully recovered now. I cant find a lot of info on this. My question is will she be prone to having this happen again or is it a fluke incident. I just don’t know whether I need to make her other doctors aware for future procedures

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hello Vanessa,

      Negative pressure pulmonary edema typically follows laryngospasm (vocal cords spasm “shut”) that can not be effectively treated. Although it is a rare occurrence, it is more often seen on extubation (removal of breathing tube). This is more likely to happen if something (secretions, blood, stomach fluid, etc) irritates the vocal cords.

      This does not mean it will necessarily happen again, however, it is a good idea to let your (future) anesthesiologist know about this event. If you can track down the anesthesia record from that procedure, even better.

      Best of luck to you and your mother.

      Dr. Dave

  46. Leslie Wood says:

    I woke up after lumbar surgery as they were taking the breathing tube out and was choking and coughing. Is this something that is suppose to happen? It was not pleasant.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Leslie,

      I am sorry to hear about your unpleasant experience.

      Most people do not have any memory of the breathing tube being removed after the completion of surgery. Rarely, if there was difficulty placing the breathing tube, the anesthesiologist may decide to remove the breathing tube only after the patient is “very awake”. This is an added safety measure to ensure that no problems occur with extubation (removing the breathing tube).

      You may want to speak with your anesthesiologist and let them know how you felt. You could then ask him/her if there were any issues with the placing and/or removing of the breathing tube.

      All the best,

      Dr. Dave

  47. Tiffani says:

    I have had several procedures/surgeries in the past 6 years that required intubation. My last surgery was in March of this year. Ever since then, I’ve been having choking and coughing fits. While I’m chewing food, I’ll involuntarily inhale and then start choking and coughing to get the food out of the trachea. It has happended 4 times since March and I’m a little concerned.

    My chronic condition will probably lead to more surgeries in the future. Should I see a ENT doctor about this?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Tiffani.

      It sounds like you should see someone about this problem. Your primary care physician should be able to guide you about which medical professionals to see.

      All the best to you.

      Dr. Dave

  48. Pat says:

    I had lower advancement jaw surgery in November 2013. The breathing tube was inserted thru my nose. I was told that the tube somehow caught on my surgically separated lower left jaw bone upon being removed at the end of surgery. As a result, I was horribly bruised on my left side, had a terrible sore throat for over a week and experienced large blood clots expelling from my nose during the week after surgery. I did not complain nor bring this information to the attention of my surgeon. I just assumed it was normal. It is now 4 1/2 weeks post surgery and my left jaw is still very swollen. My right jaw is almost back to normal. I am very disappointed that I was not better informed. I feel that what happened is the responsibility of the anesthesiologist. I cannot understand how a tube got caught on my left jaw while being extracted if it were inserted thru my nose?!

    • Hi,

      I definitely feel for you after hearing your story. You have gone through a lot.

      I want to provide better answers for you, but it is difficult without knowing the details of your case.

      However, in general terms, a person may experience a sore throat after a nasal intubation. This is because the breathing tube ends up in the same place regardless of whether it is inserted through the nose or mouth.

      The fact that you were told that the tube was caught on your jaw is complicated. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a good answer without knowing more about your surgery.

      Two things: I would definitely mention your soreness to your surgeon. And two, he or she may be able to put you in contact with the anesthesiologist that took care of you.

      I hope you feel better. Let us know how everything turns out.

  49. Stephanie says:

    I just had an umbilical hernia with mesh surgery and had to be put to sleep and had a breathing tube when I awoke there was blood on the top of my hospital gown and I can feel a pretty deep cut in the back of my throat is this normal? Could the breathing tube have cut my throat?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Stephanie.

      It’s not uncommon to have some throat soreness following anesthesia with a breathing tube.

      It is possible that what you are feeling is related to placing and/or removing of the breathing tube. This can especially be the case if there was any difficulty with placing the breathing tube.

      If it continues to bother you, you could see your physician to further assess what’s going on. You could also speak with your anesthesiologist to see if there were any issues with the placement/removal of the breathing tube.

      Hope you feel better soon,

      Dr. Dave

  50. Laura says:

    On January 15, 2014 I had a partial laparoscopic hysterectomy and was intubated. When I woke up I expected to have a little soreness in my throat. The soreness lasted several days, the back of my head and neck hurt worse than the surgery (yes) and for several days I continued to cough up mucus. Now, I have had bronchial coughing for the last week and it has moved into a raspy sound in my left lung or bronchial tubes….unsure which as it is funny sounding when I breathe. Could all of this be the result of intubation or some infection that I just picked up? I have been at home since the surgery and not exposed to anyone. Is it easier to get an upper respiratory infection after anesthesia? Thank you!

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Laura.

      It would be pretty unlikely to get an infection from the intubation. It is possible to have picked up an infection at the hospital, elsewhere, or simply have been in the early stages of an infection prior to your surgery.

      I hope you feel better soon. Be sure to see your physician if your symptoms don’t improve and things get worse.

      Dr. Dave

  51. megan dunmire says:

    I had a surgery on wednesday to check m y ovarys. today is saturday and I still can’t eat. My uuvula is swollen and I have a lot of bruise like spots on the top of my mouth by my uvula and on the backside as well. I can’t eat or drink anything cause it hurts so bad. I just want to cry nothing seems to help and my ears are now hurting.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Megan,

      I am sorry you are hurting so much. That is not what typically happens after intubation.

      It may be a good idea to have your doctor check things out and check with your anesthesiologist to see if there were any issues with placing and/or removing your breathing tube.

      Dr. Dave

  52. Lou says:

    I had a tube for an umbilical hernia repair, and I can’t get over the way my mouth looks and feels. My mouth and lips are very bruised. My upper and lower lips are just one big fat lip, like I’ve been punched. I have scratches on the roof of my mouth, and I can’t get over the extreme sore throat I have. What happened? I will definitely talk to my doc about this during my followup.
    .

    • David Draghinas says:

      Lou,

      I am sorry to hear about your experience as well. Again, this is not the typical results following a breathing tube for surgery.

      It may be a good idea to have your physician check things out. And also, talk with your anesthesiologist to see if there were any issues with the breathing tube during your procedure.

      Dr. Dave

  53. Lou says:

    Thanks for the response Dr. I’m a little disappointed with the anesthesiologist. I feel she had no regard on how I’d feel the next few days. The whole procedure went well other than my fat lips, mouth scratches, and extremely sore throat.

  54. Ray Baker says:

    I had hernia surgery, last Thursday, and a breathing tube was placed down my throat.
    Now, one week later, I am still experiencing some hoarseness and raspy voice. Is this normal?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Sorry it’s taken me a few days to respond, Ray.

      A sore throat from the placement and removal of a breathing tube typically does not last this long.

      It may be a good idea to get this checked out by your physician. I hope you feel better soon. Please let us know how things go.

      Dr. Dave

  55. Jennnifer Jansen says:

    Hi. I had General Anesthesia for a D&C/Hysteroscopy this morning. My meds just wore off and my throat is very sore. Very red with patches of darker red and abrasions. What concerns me is small white cyst on side of throat (not on tonsils so doubt tonsil stones etc.). Could that be from the trauma of the breathing tube? How long can I expect it to to last?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for your question. The typical sore throat from a breathing tube lasts about a day or so. The white cyst you are describing is not typical after intubation.

      If you are still noticing it and having difficulties with a sore throat, it may be a good idea to have your physician take a look.

      Thanks,

      Dr. Dave

  56. Alysa says:

    Hello, I had an emergency D&C after extreme blood loss yesterday. My two complaints about the breathing tube was that I just felt a lump on the inside of my mouth by my upper teeth (maybe its from how they positioned the breathing tube on the inside of my mouth?) And also I have a very sore and painful chest when I take a deeper breath or need to cough. Is this normal, as I just had this surgery done yesterday?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your comment, Alysa.

      Sometimes there can be some lumps and bruises that occur from the breathing tube, especially if the placement was more difficult.

      The breathing issues you describe can also happen after general anesthesia. What tends to help is deep breathing exercises and good coughs. Of course, if you develop any fever and/or your symptoms do not improve be sure to let your doctor know.

      Hope you feel better soon.

      Dr. Dave

  57. Shawna says:

    I hadca surgery for a ovarian cysts removal on Thursday march 6 th today is the10th I still have a big lump in my lip from the tube begin forced down my throat, will this lump go away, it big and kinda solid, what can I do to get rid of it.. It looks really bad, please help. .

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Shawna,

      I’m sorry to hear about the lump on your lip. If this is something that was not there before the surgery, it was likely caused by the placement or removal of the breathing tube. Although not common, trauma to the lips, teeth, or inside the mouth and throat can occur with a breathing tube.

      Like any bruise, it should go away with time. Hope you feel better soon.

      Dr. Dave

  58. Hi Doctors

    First, thanks for your great site. I just had my gallbladder out and was curious to learn more about the anesthesia process and found your page.

    When I woke up properly, back in my hospital room, I discovered I had a fat lip. It was discoloured and swollen on the lower left side, and was numb too. In fact, my surgery was Monday, and although the swelling is gone, I still don’t have full feeling back in it yet (Sunday). The anesthetist did come and see me after surgery but I was still very groggy (I got very sick after surgery so took a while to come round properly) and so couldn’t ask about my lip.

    All I can find online is stuff about teeth being knocked. Clearly that’s not what happened here. My question is, what is likely to have happened? And if I need surgery again, should I bring it up in the hopes it doesn’t happen again? I know it’s minor in comparison to the gallbladder wounds I’m healing from, but it isn’t pleasant to deal with because it affects eating and drinking.

    Thanks so much.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad this site has been beneficial to you!

      Your anesthetist should be able to give you more information on exactly what happened. If there was any difficulty placing the breathing tube, there may be some bruising or swelling of the lips as well. Your anesthetist would be able to tell you if that was the case.

      The good news is that the pain, swelling, and numbness should go away with time. Should you need surgery again, you could mention it to your anesthetist. We always like to know if there have been any issues in the past.

      Praying for your speedy recovery,

      Dr. Dave

  59. Suzie says:

    I have a strange question. I have a HUGE fear of being tubed. I am obese and have sleep apnea. I MAY have to have gallstone surgery soon. Is there any alternative like a cpap like device or running the tube in my nose so it would not have to be in my mouth? Please help me if you can. The fear is making me more likely to put off surgery longer than I should. The more I read the worse it gets. Please tell me there is an alternative. Thank you so so much…

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Suzie,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately, for gall bladder surgery, a breathing tube has to be used. Gall bladder surgery, because it occurs inside the abdomen, requires muscle relaxation and controlled ventilation with a breathing tube. This is actually the safest way to perform this kind of surgery.

      I’m sorry this isn’t the information you were hoping for. When going in for surgery, let the staff and anesthesiologist know about your fears. They will be able to talk you through everything and provide anti-anxiety medicine if necessary.

      All the best,

      Dr. Dave

  60. Jill says:

    Crazy long story but I am of ill health had a total pancreatecomy with auto islet cell transplant 3 yrs ago because of hp. I’ have terrible malabsorption despite being in enzymes plus still pain it took years to diagnose me they took body parts till a doc in Tucson finally figured it out I’m in wi!! No uterus overies gallbladder appendix ect this last surgery was 16 hrs no problems I was on heavy doses of oain meds and still am on some narcotics to slow down motility ( gastri emptying off them was 15 min from mouth to out) anyways I had a test for blood in my urine yesterday they said 10 min top he could do in office or surgery center well after all the poking and priding I’ve gone through and continue to go through I opted for center! He intimated me not sure why he said from the get go probably worried because of the narcs I would be hard to put to sleep I do believe that’s in my file from egds etc I can see cuts 2 or 3 on left side beginning of throat never had this I’ve had over 10 surgeries was this just sloppy work it hurts like hell haven’t slept a wink funny thing I’m scheduled for yet another egd today so he can look for me lol any suggestions? To heal it?

    • David Draghinas says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience, Jill. It’s hard to say why that happened without knowing more.

      Usually time allows your body to heal itself over several days with sore throats caused by breathing tubes. Cough drops or throat lozenges can also provide some temporary relief. I hope you feel better soon.

      Dr. Dave

  61. Krystal says:

    I have had several surgeries in the past. But this is the first time i think I had a problem with the breathing tube.. I woke up and my mouth was very numb and DRY! I have never had this dry of a mouth in my whole life. This lasted for at least 24 hrs. I couldn’t eat much because I couldn’t even get food to go down my throat without taking a big drink to help it along. The day after my surgery I could only eat wet foods. I tried eating some bread, and it was instant burning sensation. It felt like putting jalepeno peppers on an open wound.. The anesthesiologist never mentioned anything about complications… I plan to ask the dr at my post op to see if he knows… I’m just hoping I can eat soon..

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hello Krystal,

      Have you gotten any more answers about your dry throat?

      Sore throat following surgery with a breathing tube is pretty common. And sometimes the throat does feel dry. The last time I had general anesthesia, I remember “waking up” in the recovery room with a very dry throat. I felt much better once I was able to have some sips of water and ice chips.

      I hope your sore, dry throat is improved by now.

      Dr. Dave

  62. Charlotte Thomas says:

    Hello, I had a d&c done all most a week ago. I was told a tube was placed down my throat but they had a difficult time inserting it there. They did send me a letter to be used in case of future surgeries. My throat was very sore for days and I was barely able to talk. It still feels a little strange, but I can swallow.

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