General anesthesia is a commonly used method to render a person unconscious and immobile during surgery. While it is effective, like any medication, there are potential side effects to consider. In this article, we will explore the common side effects of general anesthesia, how they affect the body, and how they are managed or treated.
How does general anesthesia affect the body?
General anesthesia is administered before and during a surgical procedure. It involves a combination of medications administered through inhalation and intravenous routes. When a person is under general anesthesia, they enter a state of consciousness much deeper than normal sleep.
During this state, individuals are completely unaware of their surroundings and do not feel any pain. The medications temporarily paralyze the muscles, allowing the person to remain still during the procedure. Breathing is maintained through a tube inserted into the throat and connected to a machine that assists with breathing.
The common side effects of general anesthesia
The side effects of general anesthesia can vary from person to person. However, most individuals experience little to no side effects or only minor effects in the hours and days following their procedure.
Some common side effects may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sore or hoarse throat
- Dry mouth
- Muscle pain
These side effects are usually temporary and resolve within a few hours.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are the most common complications after general anesthesia. Individuals who have experienced these symptoms after a previous surgical procedure are more likely to experience them again. To prevent these symptoms, anti-nausea medications can be administered before the surgery. Medications can also be used to treat nausea when it occurs.
Sore or hoarse throat
The breathing tube used during general anesthesia can cause throat pain or a hoarse voice. The longer the surgical procedure, the higher the likelihood of experiencing these symptoms. Sprays, lozenges, and other medications can help reduce throat pain in the days following the procedure. If the hoarse voice persists for more than five to seven days, it is important to consult a healthcare professional.
Dry mouth can occur due to the lack of food or drink before and during the surgical procedure. It can also be caused by the drying effects of anesthesia medications. Typically, dry mouth resolves within 24 hours after the procedure. In the meantime, drinking water or sucking on ice chips can help relieve discomfort.
Some medications administered during the surgical procedure can cause chills or shivering. These symptoms usually subside as the effects of the medications wear off. Additionally, chills can be caused by a slight drop in body temperature during the procedure. If experiencing chills, covering oneself with extra blankets can provide comfort until the chills disappear. It is important to note that a fever can also cause chills and shivering, which may be more likely if there was an infection prior to the procedure.
The medications used for general anesthesia can cause drowsiness. It is not uncommon to fall asleep and wake up during the hours following the procedure. However, after a good night's sleep, most individuals should feel more refreshed.
The paralytic medications used in general anesthesia are known to cause muscle pain. Additionally, remaining still in one position during the surgical procedure can also lead to muscle pain. Patients often report back pain due to the inability to change position during the procedure.
The medications administered during and after the surgical procedure can cause itching of the skin.
The serious side effects of general anesthesia
While serious complications of general anesthesia are rare, they can occur. Some of the serious side effects of general anesthesia may include:
After anesthesia, a person may experience confusion or agitation due to the altered state of consciousness caused by the medications. Waking up in an unfamiliar environment, such as a hospital, can be disorienting for some individuals.
Overall, general anesthesia is a safe and effective method for keeping individuals unconscious and immobile during surgery. While there may be potential side effects, they are typically temporary and can be managed or treated. It is important for healthcare professionals to closely monitor patients during and after the administration of general anesthesia to ensure their well-being.