If you have a major surgery ahead of you, you may be nervous about the anesthesia. The Internet is full of ambiguous information about it, and it’s completely normal to be scared. In this article, we’ve gathered all the verified information about general anesthesia. Take a look, get yourself familiar with the procedure, and let all your fears disappear.
So What Is It?
General surgeries are extremely painful, so general anesthesia was created so that the patient wouldn’t suffer. It is a type of medicine that an anesthesiologist administers to you through a special mask or an IV placed in the vein. It works by interrupting nerve signals in your brain and body, so you won’t feel any pain or remember what happened during the surgery – the brain simply won’t process or recognize anything that is happening to you.
Your anesthesiologist will come to you before the surgery to learn about your medical history. Most probably, they’ll ask questions about your general health and lifestyle, whether you smoke, drink, or take any medications on a daily basis. They’ll also inquire whether your family had any problems with anesthesia and if you have allergies, so be prepared for such questions, as well. Knowing all of this information, your anesthesiologist will decide which medicine is the most suitable for you.
He’ll also answer your questions about the anesthesia, so let him know if you have any concerns.
What Happens During Anesthesia?
During anesthesia, many of your body functions will slow down or need help to work efficiently. But don’t worry – your anesthesiologist will be there for you all the time, caring for you before, during, and after the surgery. On the special anesthesia machines, he’ll monitor your vital functions, such as:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Blood oxygen levels
- Fluid levels
Thanks to these measurements, the doctors will know if your body’s functioning normally and whether they should adjust your medication or give you more fluids or blood if you need it. This will also help them make sure that you’re asleep and pain-free throughout the surgery.
A special tube may be inserted into your throat for you to breathe normally. – it will ensure that you’re getting enough oxygen. The nurses may also use special tape to close your eyelids, preventing your eyes from getting dry as they don’t fully close under general anesthesia and produce fewer tears than normally.
Waking Up from General Anesthesia
After the surgery, the anesthesiologist will reverse the medication, and you will gradually wake up. At first, you will be taken to the recovery room, so the nurse can monitor if you’re feeling okay, and there aren’t any problems after surgery and anesthesia – then, you’ll be transferred to a ward to recover completely. Depending on the surgery and your state, you’ll stay in the hospital for a few hours to a few days.
Some people feel fine after general anesthesia; some can experience unpleasant symptoms. The most common of them are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shivering and feeling cold
- Confusion and memory loss
- Bladder problems
- Soreness and bruising
- Sore throat and, rarely, mouth or teeth damage from the breathing tube
Most of the side effects occur immediately after you wake up and don’t last long. Your anesthesiologist or nurse will help you manage these symptoms.
It may take general anesthesia a few days to completely leave your system, so you may feel dizzy and sleepy, and your reflexes may be affected. If the doctors let you leave the hospital on the day of the surgery, make sure that someone can take you home.
How to Prepare
The doctor will give you clear instructions to follow before the surgery – follow them always. You should fast for several hours prior to the procedure. If you don’t – problems will occur during the surgery. Most often, you will be allowed to drink water until a few hours prior. The doctor will also advise you on taking your regular medications or herbal supplements, and what you can or can’t do before the surgery – for example, you shouldn’t smoke or shave your surgical area.
You may also be asked to remove all body piercings, make-up, and nail polish so that any unwanted bacteria won’t be brought into the surgery room. Clear skin and nails will also allow doctors to monitor your blood circulation.
The Bottom Line
General anesthesia is a rather safe procedure. However, some severe complications can occur, like a severe allergy reaction, waking up during the surgery, or even, in rare cases, death. But don’t get scared – your anesthesiologist is a professional who knows how to prevent them. Serious problems can occur if you drink or smoke daily – then you will be asked to stop doing this a few weeks before the surgery. If you’re overweight, the doctor may ask you to lose weight or increase your activity levels in the weeks prior.
General anesthesia will allow you to get the pain-free surgery that you need. You should remember to follow all the instructions the doctor gives you, and everything will go according to plan. And don’t worry – anesthesiologists are some of the most skilled doctors, and they will do everything they can to reduce the risk of complications. You’re in safe hands.