Every year, many people undergo surgical procedures that require the use of anesthesia. This process of relaxing and slowing down the body’s functions make it possible for doctors to perform complex operations without causing pain to the patient. Although most procedures carry a low risk of complications, there are some risks when it comes to receiving anesthesia. By being an informed patient, you can lower or eliminate the risks associated with anesthesia.
While there are risks associated with all surgeries, those that carry the greatest risk involve the use of general anesthesia. This process of being “put under” dramatically slows the body’s responses and can stop the heart and other vital functions. Patients under general anesthesia are typically given oxygen during surgery to assist in breathing.
Ask if General Anesthesia is Necessary
Doctors can perform procedures like Cesarean childbirth under local anesthesia in certain circumstances. This drastically cuts your risk for complications because you will be awake for the procedure. Only the surgical area will be numbed. Outpatient surgeries are often performed under local anesthesia, cutting back on the side effects of anesthesia. Your health insurance provider can inform you of the options available for your surgery.
Meet Everyone on the Surgical Team
Before your procedure, meet every member of the surgical team. Talk to the anesthesiologist about the risks and discuss any concerns you may have.
Discuss Your History
Don’t assume that your doctor and health care team knows your complete medical history. If you or a family member has had a negative reaction to anesthesia, let your surgical staff know. Although it is uncommon, some people have a genetic disposition toward negative reactions under anesthesia. Let your primary physician, anesthesiologist and nursing staff know about any negative experiences with anesthesia.
Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions
One of the most important ways to avoid experiencing the side effects of anesthesia is to follow your surgeon’s instructions to the letter. Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything for a certain amount of time after surgery. There is an important reason for this. Eating or drinking immediately after surgery can cause you to aspirate food into your lungs, resulting in breathing difficulties or death. Most surgeons will also advise you not to eat within several hours of your procedure for the same reason. If you accidentally eat before your surgery, inform your doctor. You may have to postpone or cancel your procedure, but the inconvenience is for your own safety.
By understanding the true risks of anesthesia, you can avoid suffering the common side effects associated with general anesthesia.