What is anesthesia?
Anesthesia is a way to control pain during a surgery or procedure by using medicine called anesthetics. It can help control your breathing, blood pressure, blood flow, and heart rate and rhythm.
Anesthesia may be used to:
Other medicines may be used along with anesthesia, such as ones to help you relax or to reverse the effects of anesthesia.
What are the types of anesthesia?
What determines the type of anesthesia used?
The type of anesthesia used depends on several things:
Your doctor or nurse may prefer one type of anesthesia over another for your surgery. In some cases, your doctor or nurse may let you choose which type to have. Sometimes, such as in an emergency, you don't get to choose.
What are the risks and complications of anesthesia?
Major side effects and other problems of anesthesia aren't common, especially in people who are in good health. But all anesthesia has some risk.
For example, high doses of local and regional anesthetic can go into the rest of the body and affect your breathing, heartbeat, or blood pressure. Some people get headaches after spinal anesthesia.
Your specific risks depend on the type of anesthesia you get, your age, your health, and how you respond to the medicines used. Some health problems, such as heart or lung disease, increase your chances of problems from anesthesia. Taking certain medicines, smoking, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs can also increase your chance of problems.
Your doctor or nurse will talk with you about the best type for you and will review risks, benefits, and other choices.
How can you prepare for anesthesia?
Your surgeon may let you know what to do the night before and the day of the procedure. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
If your child is having surgery or a procedure, you can help him or her prepare. Let your child know what to expect. Be honest if he or she might feel pain. Be sure to tell your child that you will be close by.
What happens while you're under anesthesia and when you recover?
Before and during surgery, an anesthesiologist or a nurse anesthetist will take charge of your comfort and safety. He or she will give you the anesthesia and closely monitor you. This means he or she will check your blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and other vital body functions throughout the surgery. During surgery, the anesthesia specialist also will continue to give anesthesia to keep you free of pain.
When the procedure is complete, you will stop getting the medicine. How quickly the anesthesia wears off depends on the anesthetics and other medicines used and on your response to the medicines.
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room. A nurse will check your vital signs and any bandages and ask about how much pain you have. If you are in pain, don't be afraid to say so.
Some effects of anesthesia may last for many hours after surgery.
For minor surgeries, you may go home the same day. If surgery is more complicated, you may have to move to a hospital room to continue your recovery. If you stay in the hospital, your doctor or nurse will visit you to check on your recovery and answer any questions you have.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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