Types of Conscious Sedation

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Types of Conscious Sedation
Concscious sedation allows you to be relaxed but alert to what is going on. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Conscious sedation is a method used to help a person relax. A combination of a sedative and anesthetic is used to create the types of conscious sedation. Conscious sedation is used by nurses, doctors and dentists. This medicine is typically used before performing a medical or dental procedure. Some patients prefer to be consciously sedated to alleviate any pain that might be felt during the procedure while allowing them to be awake and aware of what is happening. Some instances where conscious sedation is used include minor surgery, vasectomy and dental surgery. Conscious sedation is generally safe, but you might experience breathing problems if the dose is too high. This rarely occurs, and a doctor or nurse will be monitoring you.

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Intravenous (IV)

Intravenous conscious sedation allows a patient to feel very numb but deeply relaxed. You will also be given a local anesthetic to cease any pain. Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety sedatives and are generally used for IV sedation. They are short-term and the effects include sleepiness, a state of intense relaxation and partial to complete amnesia. The amnesia is temporary, and you might not remember what happened during the procedure. Your dentist or doctor can advise you of the exact medicine they will use for your IV sedation. This procedure is best for patients who wish to not feel any pain or be aware of the procedure taking place. You need to have a driver ready to take you home because the medication will not fully wear off right away. This form of conscious sedation can be relatively expensive when compared to the other sedation forms.


Oral sedation is an option for people who have a fear of needles. Oral sedation provides comfort while undergoing a procedure or treatment by numbing the pain. You are fully alert but pain-free. Oral sedation is often antianxiety pills, such as diazepam or alprazolam, that help calm your nerves before the procedure. Depending on the dosage you are given you may need someone to drive you home from your appointment. The biggest con to choosing oral sedation is that it varies for each patient, meaning the standard dose might not work as well as you hoped.


A very safe and popular form of conscious sedation is inhalation sedation. This type is typically a combination of nitrous oxide, also referred to as laughing gas, and oxygen. The mixture is delivered by an instrument that supplies the right amount of nitrous oxide and oxygen through tubes from the mask that is placed on the nose. You inhale the gas and should feel the nitrous oxide working within thirty seconds, and your body should begin relaxing within ninety seconds. The distribution of the gas can be easily controlled, and its effects are diminished within five minutes of stopping it.

Intramuscular (IM)

Children are more likely to undergo intramuscular sedation because it manages moderate levels of fear or anxiety. This form of conscious sedation is administered by an injection into the upper arm or thigh muscle. It should take effect within 30 minutes.

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