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Postsurgical fatigue introduction
Patients often question why they are so tired after surgery. Many patients think that because they have been “put to sleep with anesthesia” that they should be refreshed and have more energy as they recover from their surgery. However, the tired feeling (fatigue) after surgery is the usual situation for most patients and there are some reasons for this outcome.
Some reasons begin even before surgery. For example, many patients have anxiety about undergoing any type of surgery and find it difficult to sleep, especially right before the date of surgery. Consequently, many patients have a sleep deficit even before they undergo surgery. This sleep deficit must be made up so the body triggers "sleepiness or fatigue" as a way to pay off this deficit. Anesthetics do not make up for this sleep deficit, so the body still has it after surgery.
Anemia and blood loss
One of the consequences of low red blood count (anemia) is that person can have fatigue. If the patient has a history of anemia before surgery they are already primed to feel tired and sleepy after surgery. Even patients who are not anemic before surgery may become anemic during or after surgery because of blood loss during and after the procedure. In addition to feeling fatigued and/or sleepy, the patient who has lost blood may have a tendency to feel weak and/or dizzy when they try to sit up or stand up. Also, they may feel fatigued because they work harder to breathe since the anemia has decreased oxygen carrying capacity due to fewer red blood cells available to carry oxygen to the body's tissues.