5 Common Side Effects And Risks Of General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a necessary part of many surgeries and medical procedures. It makes it, so the patient is “asleep” and unable to feel pain during the surgery.

While general anesthesia is generally safe, there are some risks and side effects associated with it. Most people will not experience any problems, but they do sometimes happen. Your healthcare team will monitor you closely during and after your surgery to ensure you are as safe and comfortable as possible.

The most common side effects and risks of general anesthesia include the following:

Temporary Confusion and Memory Loss

It is common to feel confused and have memory loss immediately after waking up from anesthesia. This is usually only temporary and will resolve within a few hours.

For this reason, having someone with you who can drive you home and help take care of you for the first day or two after your surgery is important.

Older adults and people with pre-existing cognitive issues may be more likely to experience more prolonged confusion and memory loss after surgery. Still, this should improve as the medication leaves your system.

Dry Mouth and Sore Throat

These symptoms are not necessarily related to the anesthesia itself but to the procedure that goes along with it.

General anesthesia prevents your lungs from functioning at their normal capacity. To help with this, a breathing tube is placed down your throat and into your lungs. This tube is then connected to a machine that helps you breathe.

The breathing tube may cause some minor irritation or soreness in your throat when you wake up. This is usually temporary and will resolve within a day or two.

Unintended Intraoperative Awareness

In some rare cases, people may be aware of what is happening during their surgery even though they are supposed to be asleep.

There are a few different reasons why this may happen, such as if the anesthesia does not work correctly or if the patient’s body metabolizes the drugs too quickly.

The anesthesiologist will constantly monitor the patient’s vital signs and adjust the anesthesia accordingly to prevent this from happening.

If it does happen, it is typically only for a short period of time, and the patient is unlikely to remember it afterward.

Allergic Reaction

Although it is not common, some people may have an allergic reaction to the medication used for anesthesia.

This can cause a rash, swelling, difficulty breathing, and other signs of an allergic reaction.

If this occurs, your healthcare team will be prepared to treat it and ensure you are safe.

If you have ever had a reaction to anesthesia in the past, tell your anesthesiologist before your surgery.

Cardiac Arrest

General anesthesia can also make it hard for your heart and blood vessels to function properly. It may cause blood pressure to drop, or your heart rate may become irregular.

People who have heart disease or other cardiovascular conditions may be at a higher risk of complications from anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will be aware of this and take extra precautions to prevent problems.

Anesthesia for patients with heart disease continues to become safer and safer as knowledge and technology improve.

Is It Safe?

Despite these potential side effects and risks, if you are in a condition where surgery is considered necessary, the benefits of anesthesia will almost always outweigh any risks.

Anesthesiologists are highly trained and experienced medical professionals who will do everything they can to keep you safe and comfortable during your surgery.

If you have any questions or concerns about anesthesia, be sure to talk to your anesthesiologist or surgeon before your surgery. They will help you decide if anesthesia is right for you and explain what you can expect.