What are the Side Effects of Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is considered safe and effective when provided by trained clinicians. They will be monitoring you throughout your procedure to minimize risks. However, like any medication or medical procedure, there are potential side effects. Side effects can vary with factors including the type of anesthesia used, the patient’s individual characteristics, and the duration of the procedure. Most side effects are temporary and patients experience a full recovery within 24- 48 hours. Here are some side effects of anesthesia to note:

  • Nausea and Vomiting: Some patients may experience nausea and vomiting after anesthesia. Some patients are at higher risk – for example having a history of motion sickness. Anti-nausea medication may be given to manage this.
  • Sore Throat: A sore throat may occur after general anesthesia, especially if a breathing tube is used during the procedure.
  • Headache: Some patients may experience a headache after receiving anesthesia.
  • Dizziness: Dizziness and confusion can occur after anesthesia, especially in elderly patients.
  • Shivering: Some patients may experience shivering especially in the recovery room as the body’s temperature regulation returns to normal.
  • Muscle Aches and Pains: Patients may experience muscle aches from the medications used to help place a breathing tube.
  • Allergic Reaction: Rarely, patients may have an allergic reaction to anesthesia.
  • Damage to Teeth, Lips, Tongue, or Throat: If a breathing tube is used during general anesthesia, there is a small risk of damage to the teeth, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Fatigue: Patients may experience easy tiredness as they recover from surgery and anesthesia

It’s important to note that although patients may experience mild side effects which can be managed, serious complications from anesthesia are rare and the benefits of anesthesia typically far outweigh the risks. During your pre-anesthesia evaluation, patients should discuss any concerns they have with their anesthesiologist and anesthesia team. Ask which side effects may be particularly important given your medical history and what might be done to minimize the risk of these side effects.

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