If you have to undergo a procedure that requires general anesthesia, you may be understandably nervous – such procedures tend to be serious in nature (although it could be something as simple as having your wisdom teeth removed). And when your doctor begins explaining some of the potential risks involved with being put under, you might not want to go through with your prescribed treatment at all. But when you understand how general anesthesia works and what you can generally expect, you’re bound to be much more comfortable with the situation, especially since you’ll be in the hands of trained and experienced professional anesthetists. Here are just a few basics of general anesthesia that should help put your mind at ease.
First, you should know that there are a couple of different ways in which anesthesia may be delivered. Thanks to television medical dramas, most people are familiar with the inhalation method, whereby a mask is fitted over the face and the patient receives their dose of anesthesia by breathing in a gas. This method is used most commonly during procedures that require the patient to remain unconscious for an extended period of time since it can be maintained, regulated, and adjusted quickly if necessary (if, for example, the patient awakens during the treatment). Injections are also common, as anyone who has had their wisdom teeth pulled can attest. In some cases, both will be used, and you may even be given an oral medication prior to anesthesia that helps you relax.
So what happens when you are subjected to general anesthesia? For all intents and purposes, you will fall asleep, or more accurately, fall unconscious. Once the anesthesia is administered, you will be unable to feel pain and you will likely lose all memory of the event. Many people report that the last thing they recall is being asked to count down from ten, and you will probably fall unconscious before you get to zero. You won’t remember anything until you are awakened by the medical staff following your procedure.
Coming out of anesthesia can be the most difficult part of the ordeal for many patients because it is common to feel confused, disoriented, and even nauseous following medical procedures requiring general anesthesia. You may also feel some amount of pain from whatever treatment has been administered. And you will likely feel groggy and it may take up to an hour (or more in some cases) to awaken fully. But you will have support staff on hand to ensure your comfort as you recover from being under anesthesia.
Although there are potential side effects associated with going under general anesthesia, it is rarely recommended unless absolutely necessary and your doctor can explain the possible risks and benefits to you beforehand to ensure that you are comfortable with the prospect. In addition, it may help you to know that hospitals often have teams of anesthetists on hand to ensure the safety and comfort of patients that undergo general anesthesia. And they may even hire a third-party company like Premier Anesthesia to audit and manage their anesthesia department as an extra failsafe. While the risks associated with anesthesia can never be completely removed, you should know that medical professionals go out of their way to minimize risk and protect patients. And when you go under, the odds are that the benefits you’ll gain from the process will far outweigh any potential risks.