The After-Effects of General Anesthesia

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Any surgical procedure will require anesthesia, which is administered by an anesthesiologist. The type of anesthesia used on a specific case will depend on various factors. Usually, the surgical procedure will dictate what kind of anesthesia is needed. However, your preferences will also be taken into consideration by your surgeon.

Four Types of Anesthesia

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is the most common of all types of anesthetics. It involves total lack of consciousness and sensation over a large area of the body. The medication is administered intravenously or as a breathing gas.

Regional Anesthesia

This technique produces numbness on the nerves in the area of the body that requires surgery. There will be no pain on this area at all. But unlike general anesthesia, you have the option to remain awake throughout the operation. If you want to remain unconscious throughout the operation, you can ask for a sedative.

Monitored Anesthesia Care

This procedure requires a shot of local anesthesia into the skin to provide additional pain control during or after surgery.

Local Anesthesia

A shot of anesthesia is injected at the surgical skin directly. Administering the drug does not require an anesthesiologist but an anesthesiologist will monitor your condition.

Preparing for the Anesthetics

General anesthesia will relax the muscles, particularly in the digestive tract and airways. As such, you are advised against eating or drinking before surgery. Usually, fasting is conducted six hours before the procedure.

However, you can take small sips of water as you fast. But this will depend on your doctor’s orders. Your doctor will also assess the types of drugs or natural supplements you took prior to the surgery. Certain types of herbs can interact with certain drugs and this can lead to adverse effects. Fish oil, grapefruit juice, ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba are some compounds that can affect medications.

After Surgery Recovery

After the surgical procedure, you will be wheeled back to the operating room for a procedure called “recovery room”, or post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). An anesthesiologist will track your medications as you recover from surgery. This will take 30 minutes of careful monitoring by specially-trained nurses.

If you received major surgery – such as heart surgery – you will be wheeled into the intensive care unit to recover from the surgery. You will be hooked to a life support machine for a certain time and discuss your condition with your surgeon and anesthesiologist. After recovering from the surgery, you will be moved to another area for family or friends visitations.

Side Effects of General Anesthesia

As the numbing effects of anesthesia wear off, you will start feeling intense pain. You can ask the doctor or a nurse to provide painkillers, which can be administered orally or by injection.

Nausea and vomiting are common anesthesia after-effects. But the queasy feeling should go away as you recover from your surgery.

Confusion, grogginess, and dry mouth are also typical after-effects of anesthesia. In some cases, patients wake up not knowing what happened before the surgery. In other cases, patients will shiver as the anesthesia wears off. Sore throat and mild voice hoarseness are also common after-effects of anesthesia. This is caused by various machines hooked into the body from the airways.


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