Anaesthesia is used every day in hospitals and clinics all over the world. Because it is dangerous to operate on an awake patient, not to mention painful, anaesthesia is given. Millions of people have had anaesthesia in one form or another. Most people bounce back quickly from the anaesthesia with no long-term side effects.
What Is General Anesthesia?
General anaesthesia is a medication or combination of medications that are given in preparation for surgery. They effect the neurological system to induce sleep, as well as shut down the pathways to the brain that allow pain to be felt. There are several different types of medications that can be given, and depending on the age, weight, health of the patient, and type of surgery, the doctor will decide which one is best, General anaesthesia is usually only used for major surgeries that require a patient to be asleep for a while, or for children and elderly patients who may not be able to tolerate the procedure with local anaesthesia.
Short-Term Side Effects of Anesthesia
Anaesthesia can produce side effects. Most of the side effects wear off in a short period of time, from a couple of hours to a day or two. How the patient is affected by the anaesthesia can depend on such things as the type of anaesthesia given and how long the patient was under anaesthesia, as well as the health and condition of the patient. Age also plays a role, as well as the size of the patient, and even if they are male or female. For those who wake up from anaesthesia and have side effects, most of them are mild and can be in the form of nausea and vomiting, headache, fatigue, weakness, blurred vision, sore throat, dizziness, mood swings and unusual dreams.
Possible Long-Term Side Effects of Anesthesia
Most side effects, if they last longer than a few hours after anaesthesia, are seen as far out as approximately two weeks after surgery. The most common side effects to be seen in that time frame are headache, stomach pain, black stool, vomiting, changes in urine output, yellowing of eyes or skin and weakness in the wrists or legs. It is not clear if general anaesthesia produces any extreme long-term effects. Studies in lab mice have shown that with elderly people in particular, there may be deteriorated cognitive skills long-term after anaesthesia.
Expert Insight into Anesthesia
Because every one is different and every operation is different, sometimes the unexpected happens. Although general anaesthesia is primarily a safe procedure, things that are considered out of the norm can happen. If you have a procedure that requires general anaesthesia, make sure to take note of anything strange that happens to you after the procedure. If you have a symptom from the anaesthesia that does not go away, make sure to let your doctor know about it. Because general anaesthesia affects the nervous system, people with prior neurological problems may see them worsen. Stay in close contact with your physician, and do not assume that any lasting effect is normal and will go away on its own.
Serious Risks Associated With Anesthesia
Because anaesthesia is the manipulation of the brain by strong medications, there are risks involved. Many of them depend on the condition of the patient getting the anaesthesia and whether they are going into the procedure seemingly healthy with no other health problems. The most common high-risk complications are heart attack, stroke, brain damage and death. Although these problems are rare, there is always the possibility of the unexpected happening.
Considerations When Having General Anesthesia
Most people do just fine with anaesthesia. Trying to stay calm before a surgery can be difficult, but if you trust your doctors, this will make a big impact on how you feel about having the anaesthesia and procedure. One consideration is to make sure the procedure is necessary. Another is to make sure that you are in good health before having it. If you smoke, it may be wise to quit smoking prior to your operation, for as long as possible. This will help with breathing difficulties that could arise. Getting plenty of rest and exercise will also help, because you will be more relaxed as well as healthier.