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Pre-surgery cold coming on - can I take Zicam?

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I hope you guys know what I can do and can help me out here. I woke up this morning with one of my glands in my throat swollen which, for me, is usually the first sign that I have a cold coming on. I feel pretty good, but my sinuses are a bit clogged which could be just the time of year or an additional sign that I'm getting sick.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but I have my surgery coming up on Wednesday and I've got everything set and just can't postpone this.

Of course, the pre-surgery paperwork says you've got to stop all herbal medicines and they list some of them specifically, but I'm wondering if anybody knows if I can take Zicam? This is an herbal cold remedy that tends to nip it in the bud before it becomes a full blown cold. None of the ingredients is on the list, but it IS an herbal medicine.

Of course, this is happening on a 3-day weekend for my docs, so do any of you know if I'd be messing things up if I took this? Or do any of you have an alternative solution?

Thanks in advance for any help.



  • You could try steaming with menthol or friars balsam or something similar and gargling with salt water. They were my mum's favourite remedies and she was hardly ever sick with colds.
  • Sorry to hear you're coming down with a bug, Cath! I hate to say this but you better call your doctor's office and tell them about this. In my experience with many surgeries over the years, they will not do a surgery if you've got a respiratory bug. I think it has to do with the associated risks and anesthesia, but I can't say for sure. I'm always nervous about that myself whenever I have an elective surgery coming up.

    Hope it turns out that you can have your surgery after all! :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Oh no, I hope you can get this bug under control to keep your surgery scheduled! I was thinking maybe you could call your pharmacy and ask them what they think, better yet call the physicican #, leave the question w/answering service to ask for a reply or just have the dr. call you back. I hope someone is on call to help you! Bundle up, stay warm, gargle, and drink warm tea, etc. in the meantime! Good luck and let us know how you are doing!
  • Dear Cath,

    Of all times to happen... geeze.

    Try not to worry...

    If I were you, I would give the doctor's office a call on this. It's worth getting a doctor's opinion right now, since your surgery is right around the corner.

    I don't know about the Zicam from a doctor's perspective... but, I honestly would take it, until you are told otherwise. It works well for my family and me.

    These home remedies are safe to try and they do work:

    Keep the vaporizer going with eucalyptus oil. You can apply a small dab of eucalyptus oil to moist wash cloths, which I warm up in the microwave. Place the washcloth over your face and it will help relieve the stuffy and congested feeling. It's good to put these on your throat and feet, too. Do this several times throughout the day and night.

    Hot lemonade: Hot water containing the juice of fresh squeezed lemons, with plenty of honey added, soothes the throat and is supposed to helps the lymphatic system. Sip on this throughout the day and night.

    Thick onion soup or oven baked onions have a powerful decongestant effect. The same applies to garlic bulbs.

    Try to avoid dairy products over the weekend, as this will help reduce excess mucus formation.

    If you want a really good jolt of a decongestant... horseradish will get the sinuses flowing really quick. (I have a difficult time with this, unless I mix it in with some sour cream on a baked potato).

    Hang tight, Cath. I'll be thinking of you and I hope you start feeling better and that gland goes down in size.

    Sending you healing thoughts and a hug,

    Tammy >:D<
  • inchworm said:
    Sorry to hear you're coming down with a bug, Cath! I hate to say this but you better call your doctor's office and tell them about this. In my experience with many surgeries over the years, they will not do a surgery if you've got a respiratory bug. I think it has to do with the associated risks and anesthesia, but I can't say for sure. I'm always nervous about that myself whenever I have an elective surgery coming up.

    Hope it turns out that you can have your surgery after all! :)

    I agree with Inchworm. My surgeon won't operate (non emergency) if I had a cold or flu in the prior 3 weeks! I don't know if it is the anesthesia or the shock on our systems while on the table, but you do need to let your doctor know if this is going to be an issue. Oddly, they (on the preop questions) were more concerned if I had the flu vs a cold in the last 3 weeks. The Anesthesiologist had the addition of "Have you had any respiratory infections or colds in the last 3 weeks?" I hope it all works out Cath. *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • The same thing happened to me (I'm 5 1/2 weeks post op) prior to my surgery, I panicked because like you, I didn't want to postpone my surgery. I would highly recommend saline sinus rinses. I use the one that is a bottle, I got it at Walgreens, I swear by it. I would also go ahead and use the Zicam, just my opinion though. When I started feeling sick I called my doctor and she put me on a 5 day dose of antibiotics, I can't think what it's called right now, but it's the one that you take 2 pills the first and second days and then one pill for 3 days. I hope you get to feeling better soon and that everything works out great with your surgery. Happy New Year!!
  • I had the same feeling several days before surgery. I drank lots of OJ, chicken soup, and took hot showers. It never did go into the full blown cold I was expecting. I guess I got lucky it went away before my deadline to call the doctor. It started on a Friday and I decided if it didn't stop by Monday I would call the doctor and have them postpone my surgery. I will say don't go into surgery with an illness. For one thing coughing and sneezing will hurt after surgery, BAD. For another you could be risking your life, it isn't worth dying for. I was throwing up the night of surgery from the anesthesia and believe me that was no fun at all.
  • Thanks for all the suggestions. I woke up this morning feeling a little worse than yesterday, but I took some Zicam and Umcka and an hour later, I feel good. I'll continue this regimen all day. My pre-op paperwork says that if I have a cold (or anything else) 48 hours before surgery, to call the spine center. That's Monday, so I've got two days to get this thing outta here.

    But, I'm about to have the best medicine of all. My mom-in-law (aka nurse) is flying in today and I know that she'll make me some chicken noodle soup tomorrow and will continue to baby me to make sure I'm well for surgery. I don't have all the chores done that I wanted to get done before she got here, but it's not the end of the world. She'll understand.

    Thanks for the suggestions and help, fellow spineys. Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend.

  • Stress and lack of sleep will also bring down your immune system- so in addition to all the rest - get a LOT of rest :)
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I will tell you that those sinus rinses and netty pots are the best when you have anything sinus or nasal going on. They flush stuff out. Though the netty pots are a little weird to use they helped me so much with a recent virus (what it is a little pot you fill with warm salt water and you pour it in one nostril and it comes out the other).
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Hi Cath,

    Just wanted to check in and see how you are feeling?

    I was happy to read that your mother-in-law arrived and is with you to give you some TLC.

    Hope you are feeling better.

  • the sinus rinse or netti pot suggestion! Works wonders. I also use Zicam when I feel a cold coming on and it has always worked for me. There have been some warnings about it on the internet lately - something about it destroying the sense of smell. Believe me, when I'm picking up after the dog, I could do with less sense of smell!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I woke up feeling much better this morning. I took another Zicam this morning before I took Wally for a walk just to be safe, but it appears to all be gone.

    Although I've never mentioned this before, I'm continuing to have nightmares every night, but of course, it has nothing to do with the cold I was getting, just nerves I suspect. These are the kind of nightmares that you feel you can't go back to sleep for fear of picking up where you left off, so I have to just stay up for a while until I'm ready to sleep again. The problems with sleeping are making me anxious to have the surgery not just to have my back better, but to hopefully get some solid rest.

    Thank goodness my cold was never full blown and thank you all for your suggestions and concerns. Looks like I'm all set for surgery on Wednesday and I so appreciate the help from all my spiney friends.

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    So good to hear that you are feeling better. Keep up the cold preventative stuff this week until your surgery!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I'm so glad you're feeling better today. I hope you sleep better tonight and don't have any nightmares. I'll be glad when your surgery is over so maybe you'll be able to get some real rest. Take care

  • Hi Cath,

    I am so happy to hear you are feeling better. I was getting a little concerned, but I now have peace of mind.

    The nightmares will soon be over, once you are home from your surgery. That always seems to happen with me, whenever I'm anxious about something. It's the anticipation of getting the surgery over and done with.

    Just a couple more days left and I know you will do just fine. You are going to feel so much better, Cath.

    You'll be in my thoughts throughout the week and it's so nice that you have your mother-in-law with you. You'll have the best of care!

    Keep resting and pump the fluids.

    Thinking of you,

  • Hi Cath,

    Just wanted to add my wishes For a Happy New Year to you & your family. I pray that your surgery goes well & that you have an uneventful and easy recovery.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    rid of your cold, using Zicam or any other method, including tribal witch doctors, then I say go for it.
    As the others have posted, if you have a cold or at least something they suspect of creating potential danger, they will not operate.
    And that is only for our own protection.
    I know your date is coming up fast, but you do have some time to recoup.
    Do whatever you can (within legal boundries) and getting yourself 100% back on track
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • It's good to hear you are feeling much better. I hope tomorrow goes by quickly for you. Before you know it you will be post op and back on here posting with us! I'm glad you have your MIL to help you when you get home. Good luck and take care of yourself. I'll be thinking of you and wishing you the best.

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