Hunger and Our Emotional State: Why Fasting Before Surgery Isn’t Always Your Friend
There’s a reason “hangry” has become a well-known term in our culture (merriam-Webster even added the oh-so-real adjective to its list of Words We’re Watching). Today, we’re covering “hangry” as it relates to surgery (and your recovery). We’ll break down:
- The symptoms of hunger
- Why entering surgery hungry is never a good idea
- Why medical professionals are now recommending pre-op carb-loading with a beverage like ClearFast in place of fasting after midnight
As any restaurant host knows, hungry people can be easily (and quickly) agitated. Even those iconic Snickers® advertisements remind us time and time again: “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Hunger and our emotional state are most definitely connected—as anyone who’s ever skipped their lunch break can attest to—and we’re now beginning to learn how hunger plays an important role in medical procedures and surgery. In fact, when it comes to fasting before surgery, an array of modern medical research points to the fact that being hangry in the waiting room may mean an uncomfortable surgery experience—and lower patient satisfaction—overall.
The Symptoms of Hunger
We all know the symptoms of hunger well—irritability, headaches, forgetfulness, dizziness…the list goes on. According to the New York Times article, A Serving of Reality with Surgical Fasts, which reported on a medical study of 155 patients, “The consequences of prolonged fasting are not trivial. Besides hunger, thirst and irritability, the researchers noted that some fasting patients also suffered from headaches, dehydration, low blood volume and low blood sugar. A third of patients failed to take crucial medications the day of surgery because they had been told not to swallow anything after midnight.”
Hunger and Surgery
Now, think about the emotional state surgery puts you in—you’re stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, nervous for what’s to come, and probably even a little bit frightened (going under can be scary, after all!). When we follow the antiquated fast-from-midnight rule, we pile hunger—and all of its symptoms—on top of an already heightened and stressed-out emotional state. It’s like sending our body to battle with no armor: The battle may be inevitable—but there are certainly proactive steps we can take to better prepare ourselves for the stressful event that’s to come…properly nourishing our body being a critical one.
To reduce the problems posed by fasting before surgery, more and more research is now pointing to the fact that foregoing traditional fasting-from-midnight and opting for a complex carb-rich, clear preop drink like ClearFast instead may be the key to better surgery outcomes. ClearFast is essentially a “liquid food,” so it works to safely hydrate and nourish patients before anesthesia—which ultimately makes for less patient stress, a more comfortable surgery experience, enhanced recovery after surgery, and higher patient satisfaction overall.
In fact, a medical study focusing on the effects of oral carbohydrate with amino acid intake before surgery, found that, in addition to an array of other benefits, intake of a preoperative carbohydrate drink “can provide better preoperative mental health compared with complete fasting.” According to another controlled study, researchers also found that patients in the pre-op area who drank ClearFast were 5.5-6.5 times more likely to describe themselves as “comfortable” than their cohorts who underwent traditional fasting before surgery. All of this tell us that hungry people are not happy—and that being hungry (and irritated…and dehydrated…and uncomfortable) before surgery is no longer a required part of the process. We now know that patients can safely consume the ClearFast preop drink before heading into surgery—leading to less stress and a better surgery experience overall!
Ready to take proactive steps to help reduce the stress and discomfort that accompanies old-school fasting before surgery? Talk to your doctor to ensure ClearFast is right for your surgery, then order your ClearFast Preop Beverage here, or reach out to the ClearFast team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions at all. We’re here to help replace stressful surgeries with seamless ones…one hangry patient at a time.