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In the medical field, various abbreviations and acronyms are used daily. Often, these abbreviations can be confusing for those not in the medical profession. Today, we’re going to look at the NPO medical abbreviation. What does NPO stand for? And what does it mean for patients? Read on to find out.
What Is NPO?
NPO means “nothing by mouth,” from the Latin nil per os. The term describes a patient who cannot have anything to eat or drink by mouth, including both solids and liquids. In other words, an NPO patient is on a complete fast.
Because of this, NPO orders are usually given to patients who will have surgery or another procedure where they will be under anesthesia. This is because anesthesia can cause nausea and vomiting, so the stomach must be empty before the surgery begins.
When patients are NPO, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything, not even water. This is usually done for one of two reasons.
- The patient is going to have a procedure that requires them to be under anesthesia.
- Their doctor wants them to have an empty stomach so they can better assess any digestive issues they are experiencing.
If you are scheduled for a procedure that requires you to be NPO, your doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions on how long you need to fast.
You must follow these instructions to the letter; if you don’t, there is a risk that your procedure could be canceled or postponed, or you could experience complications during or after the surgery.
What Does NPO Mean for Patients?
If you are on an NPO order, it’s important to follow your medical team’s instructions. This means not eating or drinking anything, even if you tolerate it. It’s also important to avoid chewing gum, sucking on hard candy, or drinking any liquids other than water.
Why Is It Important Before Surgery?
Before surgery, your stomach must be empty. This is because anesthesia can cause nausea and vomiting. If food is in your stomach, you may vomit and inhale (aspirate) the vomit into your lungs. This aspirated vomit can cause a serious complication called aspiration pneumonia.
Patients are typically placed on an NPO order before surgery to avoid this complication. This means they will not be able to eat or drink anything, including water, for a certain period before their surgery. The length of time will depend on the type of surgery and the medical team’s recommendations.
What Are the NPO Guidelines?
There are different NPO guidelines depending on the type of surgery you have. And it’s important to follow the specific guidelines for your surgery.
For example, suppose you have a general anesthetic (for surgery on your stomach, intestine, or colon). In that case, you will need to be NPO for 8 hours before the surgery. This means no food or drink for 8 hours before your surgery begins, including water.
If you have a regional anesthetic (such as for surgery on your hand, foot, or arm), you will need to be NPO for 4 hours before the surgery.
And if you have a local anesthetic (such as for a skin biopsy), you will not need to be NPO.
These are just general guidelines, so be sure to follow the specific instructions of your medical team.
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What Are the Risks of Not Being NPO?
If you are not NPO when you are supposed to be, there are a few risks.
- First, you may aspirate vomit into your lungs if you have surgery under general anesthesia. Aspiration pneumonia is a serious complication that can be life-threatening.
- Second, you may not be able to have your surgery if you are not NPO. This is because the anesthesiologist will not want to take the risk of you aspirating vomit during the surgery.
- And third, you may delay your surgery if you are not NPO. This is because the surgery may need to be rescheduled later.
So, it’s important to follow your medical team’s instructions and be NPO when you are supposed to be.
NPO for people with diabetes
Some patients with diabetes may have to be NPO for a longer period before surgery. This is because they may need to adjust their insulin doses before surgery.
If you have diabetes and are scheduled for surgery, be sure to follow your medical team’s instructions. They will let you know how long you need to be NPO and what to do to adjust your insulin doses.
What Can I Eat or Drink If I Am On Npo Status?
If you are on Npo status, you should not have anything to eat or drink, including water. You may be able to have ice chips or hard candy if your doctor or nurse says it is okay. Ice chips and hard candy can help to keep your mouth moist and help you avoid getting too thirsty.
If you are on Npo status, it is important to follow your doctor’s or nurse’s instructions. You should not have anything to eat or drink, including water.
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